Cellnex Telecom, Europe’s largest independent tower company, today announced its Q1 2022 earnings, reiterated its outlook for 2022, detailed its firepower for more M&A of tower sites, and disclosed further investments in Portugal, as well as forthcoming divestments in France and the United Kingdom.

Financial Performance in Q1 2022 – Cellnex Telecom

In Q1 2022, Cellnex reported the following key financial metrics:

  • Revenue: €828m, equivalent to a 6.7% increase quarter-over-quarter
  • Adjusted EBITDA: €634m, resulting in an 8.1% increase quarter-over-quarter and implying a 76.5% margin, which is a ~100 bps improvement quarter-over-quarter
  • Recurring Levered Free Cash Flow (RLFCF): €300m, equating to a 6.4% decline quarter-over-quarter. Cellnex’s sequential decline in RLFCF was primarily driven by higher expenses, including lease instalment and interest payments. Note that Cellnex’s lease payments are elevated in Q1 2022 because some contracts require payment for the whole period at the beginning of the year

Because of the company’s significant inorganic growth through M&A, quarter-over-quarter growth comparisons are not as meaningful. However, Cellnex notes that it achieved organic growth of 6.5% year-over-year from both new points-of-presence (PoPs) on its existing sites and its build-to-suit (BTS) programs.

Revenue Composition

Decomposing the company’s €828m of revenue shows that wireless carriers contributed €750m (90.5% of total), broadcasting added €56m (7% of total), and other network services (e.g., Internet of Things and smart cities) made-up the remaining €23m (3% of total).

New Leasing and Renewals

In terms of new leasing, Cellnex received a commitment from Digi in Portugal for up to 1.5k new PoPs. Specifically, Digi will utilize Cellnex’s tower infrastructure for its network roll-out in Portugal.

Regarding renewals, in Q1 2022, Cellnex automatically renewed its first batch of 1.0k sites acquired from Telefónica in Spain at existing terms and conditions.

Outlook for 2022 – Cellnex Telecom

For full-year 2022, Cellnex reiterated its outlook for the following key financial metrics:

  • Revenue: €3.46bn to €3.51bn, a 37% increase year-over-year, at the mid-point
  • Adjusted EBITDA: €2.65bn to €2.70bn, implying a 76.8% adjusted EBITDA margin, and a 39% increase year-over-year, at the mid-point
  • Recurring Levered Free Cash Flow (RLFCF): €1.35bn to €1.38bn, a 39% increase year-over-year, at the mid-point

Mergers & Acquisitions

Regarding M&A, Cellnex’s CEO, Tobías Martínez, stated “we are ready to execute on our targeted pipeline as the opportunities are there, and our firepower is fully funded”. To this end, as of April 2022, Cellnex has available liquidity, including treasury and undrawn debt, of ~€7.8bn.

More specifically, Cellnex has been linked with an acquisition of Deutsche Funkturm, Germany’s largest tower company, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom and has a portfolio of ~33k total sites in Germany.

Operational Tower Portfolio as of Q1 2022 – Cellnex Telecom

As of Q1 2022, Cellnex had 102.7k operational tower sites, with 136.2k tenants, which equates to a tenancy ratio of 1.33x. Specifically, these operational sites are in the following countries, ordered by number of sites:

Country# of Sites# of TenantsTenancy Ratio
France23.2k27.1k1.17x
Italy20.4k31.1k1.52x
Poland14.9k16.8k1.13x
Spain10.4k16.9k1.63x
UK8.0k11.8k1.48x
Portugal5.9k7.1k1.20x
Switzerland5.4k6.2k1.14x
Austria4.5k5.2k1.16x
Netherlands4.1k6.0k1.48x
Sweden2.7k3.4k1.27x
Ireland1.8k3.1k1.67x
Denmark1.4k1.6k1.10x
Total102.7k136.2k1.33x

Once all pending acquisitions and build-to-suit (BTS) agreements have been completed, Cellnex’s portfolio will grow to 137k towers and sites across 12 European countries, as shown below:

Cellnex Europe Towers Footprint Q1 2022

Additionally, Cellnex operates 5.8k small cells and distributed antenna system (DAS) nodes throughout Europe.

Investments and Divestments – Cellnex Telecom

Investments

In April 2022, Cellnex agreed to acquire an additional portfolio of ~350 sites, including towers and rooftop sites, from NOS, a wireless carrier in Portugal, for €155m ($168m USD). Therefore, the transaction values NOS’ 350 sites at €443k ($480k) per tower.

Notably, this purchase builds on Cellnex’s previously announced acquisitions for 750 sites in Portugal from a combination of MEO (Altice Portugal) and ONI (Oni Telecom).

Divestments

Cellnex is divesting a total of 4.2k sites in France and the UK as part of the regulatory approval processes for its previously announced tower acquisitions:

France – Phoenix Tower

In March 2022, Cellnex agreed to divest 3.2k rooftop sites in France to Phoenix Tower, an independent tower company operating in the Americas and Europe. The sale comes following Cellnex’s agreement with the French Competition Authority (FCA) to divest sites, as closing remedies, for its €5.2bn acquisition of Hivory, which comprised 10.5k towers in France.

United Kingdom – CMA Mandated Sale

In March 2022, Cellnex received approval from the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to close the UK portion of its acquisition of CK Hutchison’s passive tower infrastructure. However, as part of the CMA’s approval of its acquisition of 6.0k UK sites, Cellnex will need to divest ~1.0k of its existing UK sites which overlap geographically with CK Hutchison’s UK sites.

In terms of timing, Cellnex notes that it is on track to close the UK portion of the CK Hutchison deal, early in the second-half of 2022.

Adam Simmons is the Founder & CEO of Dgtl Infra. He started his career with an S&P 500-listed big box retailer, in an operations management role. Adam's entrepreneurial "itch" led him to start a 5G-driven company, focused on innovative retail solutions using augmented reality and shoppable videos, which was eventually sold to an advertising and consulting group. After, realizing the potential of 5G, Adam shifted his efforts towards investing in the "building blocks" of 5G - known as digital infrastructure, completing a number of strategic investments, buying cellular towers, data centers and fiber networks.

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