Benetton family, sovereign funds break up Cellnex shareholders pact

FILE PHOTO: Telecom antennas of Spain's telecoms infrastructure firm Cellnex are seen under main telecom tower, known as "Piruli", in Madrid, Spain, March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

MADRID (Reuters) - Italy's Benetton family and sovereign wealth funds from Singapore and Abu Dhabi have broken up a shareholders pact that controlled 29.9% of Spanish mobile phone towers operator Cellnex CLNX.MC.

After the operation, expected to be finalised in June, the Benetton family, through its financial holding firm Sintonia SpA, will own 16.45% in Cellnex, while the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC will own 6.73% each, according to a filing to the Spanish stock market regulator on Friday.

The three partners jointly held their stake in Cellnex through holding firm ConnecT SpA which will be dissolved, the filing said.

Spun off from Spanish infrastructure operator Abertis in 2015, Cellnex has expanded quickly and now has a market capitalisation of close to 20 billion euros ($21.75 billion), making it the seventh largest company on the IBEX 35 blue-chip index.

Cellnex has bought tens of thousands of phone towers across Europe in the past few years and now controls more than 50,000 sites. It is seen as a key player in a potential consolidation of the European telecoms infrastructure market.

In 2019 Cellnex spent almost 4 billion euros buying towers. Its latest acquisition was Portugal’s mobile operator NOS’s telecom-tower business for an initial sum of 375 million euros in April.

Reporting by Inti Landauro; editing by Jason Neely