October 24, 2016 / 2:21 PM / 3 years ago

3i Infrastructure joins bidders for Antin's FPS Towers: sources

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - 3i Infrastructure (3IN.L) said on Monday it had bid for French telecoms masts business FPS Towers, which owner Antin hopes could raise up to 1 billion euros, as it seeks to build its UK-focused Wireless Infrastructure Group into a European platform.

Antin Infrastructure Partners is working with financial adviser JP Morgan on the sale, which could fetch up to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), several sources told Reuters, adding that American Tower Corp (AMT.N) and Spain’s Cellnex (CLNX.MC) are also among around 10 bidders.

Telecoms towers have become increasingly attractive to investors as they are typically valued at very high multiples, up to 19 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), while producing steady revenues.

Debt-burdened telecoms operators have been selling their towers in order to invest in their networks and channel more data, more quickly to their customers.

Sector players including American Tower, Crown Castle [CRCST.UL] and Canadian pension and infrastructure funds are competing hard to expand in the field.

American Tower acquired Verizon’s mobile towers in the U.S. for about USD 5 billion last year while Crown Castle bought rights to about 9,700 AT&T Inc (T.N) wireless communication towers for $4.85 billion in 2013.

Antin has received around ten offers, most of them from American firms, plus a few Europeans but no French bidders, one of the sources said.

French sector leader TDF, which was acquired by a consortium led by Brookfield Infrastructure and Canada’s PSP Investments for 3.5 billion euros in 2014, did not take part, they added.

Antin is hoping to get final bids in December and close a deal shortly afterwards, said the sources.

Antin Infrastructure was not immediately available for comment, while American Tower Corp, Cellnex, JP Morgan and TDF declined to comment.

Editing by Dasha Afanasieva and Alexander Smith

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