July 26, 2018 / 3:50 PM / 10 months ago

Benetton family to sell part of Cellnex stake: sources

MILAN (Reuters) - The Benetton family is expected to sell part of its 29.9 percent stake in Spanish telecoms mast group Cellnex (CLNX.MC) to Singapore’s GIC and Abu Dahbi’s ADIA, two sources said on Thursday.

Negotiations are at an advanced stage though a final decision has not yet been taken, the sources said.

Benetton’s holding company Edizione agreed in April to buy the stake in Cellnex for around 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in a move it said was a long-term strategic investment with significant growth prospects.

Cellnex is Europe’s No. 1 player in the sector with more than 27,000 towers across the region.

The sources said the two sovereign wealth funds were expected to pay up to 600 million euros for a stake of between 30 and 40 percent in ConnecT - the vehicle that holds the Cellnex shareholding.

GIC and ADIA will also commit to inject the same amount of money to fund future growth opportunities, one of the sources added.

The companies were not immediately available for a comment.

The sale of the Cellnex stake to Edizione, whose chief executive Marco Patuano knows the towers sector well as a former CEO of Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI), is widely expected to trigger consolidation in the market.

Earlier on Thursday, Cellnex said Patuano had been appointed non-executive chairman.

One of the sources said that Cellnex was created by M&A deals and predicted that more deals could be in the pipeline with opportunities in countries such as Spain, France and Italy.

Last week, infrastructure fund F2i, along with broadcaster Mediaset (MS.MI), launched a bid for Italy’s EI Towers EIT.MI in a move that could lead to some 1,000 telecom masts coming to market.

Earlier this week, Telecom Italia’s tower business Inwit (INWT.MI) said it would be interested in EI Tower’s telecom masts if they were sold.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, Paola Arosio and Francesca Landini; writing by Francesca Landini. Editing by Jane Merriman

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