Bouygues Tel signs mobile tower sale deal

PARIS Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:23am EST

PARIS Nov 26 (Reuters) - Bouygues Telecom said on Monday that it had agreed to sell 2,166 mobile towers in France to Antin Infrastructure Partners for 205 million euros ($266 million).

Such "tower sale and lease back" deals are becoming increasingly common as cash-strapped telecoms operators seek alternative means of financing their activities.

Dutch operator KPN and Deutsche Telekom's U.S. unit recently completed similar deals.

Bouygues, like other French mobile operators, has been rocked by a price war after Iliad launched a new low- cost mobile service in January, and is cutting jobs to offset a decline in operating profit this year.

Some 1,873 mobile towers that belonged to Bouygues have already been handed over to Antin, while the rest will be completed in the second quarter of 2013.

Antin will set up a company called France Pylones Services (FPS) to own, operate the towers and rent capacity to Bouygues and other telecom operators.

Bouygues said it was keeping 15 percent ownership of FPS. As a result the tower deal will bring in 185 million euros net to Bouygues, which it said it would use to invest in its business and pay down debt. (Reporting by Leila Abboud)

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