Macquarie Infrastructure-owned Axicom is picking up 56 communications towers from Southern Cross Austereo in a deal that will see the wireless telco infrastructure outfit expand in regional Australia.
Axicom was spawned from one of the juiciest telecom infrastructure deals in recent times, with a Macquarie-led consortium picking up the business from US wireless heavyweight Crown Castle for $2 billion in 2015.
The latest deal will see Axicom pick up towers across major regional markets in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. It will also see the two parties enter into a long-term licence agreement that will let Southern Cross continue to operate its broadcast network from the sites and continue to manage all existing radio and television broadcasters on the sites.
Axicom will be responsible for maintenance. Chief executive Sean O’Halloran said the addition of the towers to the company’s portfolio should help those customers looking to expand their wireless networks and build additional backhaul capacity for those networks. “We are delighted to enter into this transaction with SCA and welcome it as an important new customer for Axicom,” he said.
Mr O’Halloran, the former local boss of Alcatel-Lucent, added that the deal marked the first time a broadcaster had sold towers to an independent operator in the Australian market.
“This acquisition is a strong signal to the industry of Axicom’s intention to invest and expand our tower portfolio and services capability locally,” he said.
“Axicom is very keen to ensure we remain the first-choice independent wireless infrastructure company in Australia.”
Southern Cross boss Grant Blackley said the agreement was well aligned to the core competencies of the respective companies. “It enables us to move the management and maintenance of our towers to a leading and specialist infrastructure provider and us to focus on our core business as an entertainment company,” he said.
The transaction is expected to be completed in March or April.
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