Cellnex close to hiring adviser as activist TCI pushes for change -sources
LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) - Spain's Cellnex (CLNX.MC) is close to hiring an adviser to help tackle demands made by hedge fund TCI, which has urged the company to reshuffle its board, sources with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters.
BNP Paribas SA (BNPP.PA), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS.N) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM.N), which have advised the company in the past, are contenders for the role, the people said, requesting anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter.
A final decision has not been taken and Cellnex could still choose not to hire an adviser, the sources added.
Representatives of Cellnex, BNP, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan declined to comment.
Through a series of deals and fund raisings arranged by the three banks, Cellnex has become the largest European phone mast operator, with more than 130,000 masts in 12 countries.
TCI holds 9% of Cellnex, including 5.9% in derivatives.
The hedge fund's founder Christopher Hohn wrote to Cellnex's board earlier in March urging the company to accelerate the search for a new CEO. He also called for the removal of non-executive chairman Bertrand Kan and directors Peter Shore and Alexandra Reich from the board.
The board partially met the requests earlier this week, replacing Kan with Anne Bouverot as chair. However, Kan and the other directors maintained their position as board members.
Cellnex's expansion came to an abrupt halt last year when the company switched to a more conservative strategy focused on debt management in an effort to improve its credit rating after losing almost half of its market value in 14 months.
Cellnex said in January that CEO Tobias Martinez would step down on June 3. The company is looking for a new CEO, with former Telecom Italia head Marco Patuano among the candidates, Spanish newspaper Expansion has reported.
The company has said it is open to considering the sale of minority stakes in some of its subsidiaries to add value and achieve an investment grade credit rating.
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