|Bid||0.5442 x 0|
|Ask||0.5444 x 0|
|Day's Range||0.5398 - 0.5459|
|52 Week Range||0.4330 - 0.5884|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||1.08|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Earnings Date||Nov 8, 2019|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||0.69|
European shares broke a five-day winning streak on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he has not agreed to roll back tariffs on China, adding to uncertainties on whether the two sides were really getting close to signing a partial deal. The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended 0.3% lower after gaining 2.5% over the last five sessions.
(Bloomberg) -- Telecom Italia SpA will probably exclude Nokia Oyj from a mobile network upgrade and award the business to Ericsson AB and Huawei Technologies Co., according to people familiar with the matter.Managers at Italy’s biggest phone carrier recently told Nokia they’re concerned the equipment maker is lagging behind rivals on 5G, and that it will likely reduce its mobile network suppliers to two from three, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.Telecom Italia is seeking tenders for a three-year project that may be worth about 600 million euros ($665 million), and will decide on the award as soon as this month, the people said. No final decision has been made, and Nokia could still play a role as a mobile network supplier to Telecom Italia, alongside Ericsson and Huawei, the people said.A spokesman for Telecom Italia declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Nokia declined to comment on commercial negotiations with customers, and said the company continues to see solid momentum in its 5G business. It has 48 commercial contracts and 15 live networks for the technology, including some of the world’s largest networks, she said.Losing the business from Telecom Italia would be a setback for Nokia, which now supplies about 30% of the carrier’s wireless gear and employs about 1,400 workers in the country. The Finnish company is struggling to keep pace with its main rivals on 5G and last month cut its profit expectations and suspended its dividend to boost research and development on the technology. Nokia shares fell 0.5% as of 10:04 a.m. in Helsinki. While the loss may be another sign that Nokia is stumbling on 5G, the symbolic significance of the loss may outweigh the direct financial hit -- the contract is small relative to the Finnish company’s 11.3 billion euros of overall mobile equipment and service sales in 2018.The tender is for work to improve Telecom Italia’s 15,000 radio access sites, including a buildout of 5G services at about 5,000 sites, the people said. Ericsson currently supplies about 40% of the carrier’s mobile equipment, and Huawei accounts for about 25%, they said.Telecom Italia Chief Executive Officer Luigi Gubitosi expects the move will help the company save money by enabling it to extract lower prices from its two suppliers, the people said. This can help it tackle its 29 billion-euro debt pile, one of the biggest in the European telecommunications industry.(Updates with Nokia shares in fifth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Daniele Lepido in Milan at email@example.com;Niclas Rolander in Stockholm at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at email@example.com, Jennifer RyanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The former head of Italian jeweler Bulgari SpA is preparing to start a hedge fund along with a pair of finance veterans who have advised the likes of activist investment firm Elliott Management Corp.Francesco Trapani, who ran Bulgari for nearly three decades, Marco Taricco and Giuseppe Bivona plan to start the Bluebell Active Equity Fund on Nov. 11 with about 50 million euros ($55.7 million), the three said in an interview on Thursday. Taricco and Bivona are co-founders of Bluebell Partners in London.The launch is an ambitious step for the three executives, who have spent the last five years helping Elliott Management, Jana Partners and other firms execute activist campaigns in Europe and the U.S. Bluebell’s fund will focus on European companies with a market capitalization of 2 billion euros to 15 billion euros, according to an investor presentation.Activist investors typically build up a stake in a company, then agitate for changes to the business in an attempt to boost the share price. This is a well established tactic in the U.S., where hedge funds are often pitted against the management of their target companies. Europe has seen fewer such campaigns -- about a quarter of the level in the U.S. this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.While the Bluebell fund’s small size will limit the pressure it can apply to companies on its own, the founders plan to join forces with other activists they’ve worked with in the past to amplify their influence. The fund will target an annualized return of 15% from investments in about 15 stocks.“It’s a strategy based on collaboration with shareholders,” Bivona said. “We are able to reach out to a lot of our former clients.”Bluebell Partners helped billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott in its campaigns against Telecom Italia SpA and Ansaldo STS SpA. Along with Trapani, they also advised Barry Rosenstein’s hedge fund Jana as it built a stake in Tiffany & Co. in 2017, with Trapani taking a seat on the jeweler’s board that year.The three executives are starting their fund in a tough capital-raising environment. Investors are pulling out from hedge funds following years of mediocre returns and high fees. They have yanked about $77 billion this year alone, twice as much as in all of 2018, according to eVestment data.To contact the reporter on this story: Nishant Kumar in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shelley Robinson at email@example.com, Patrick Henry, Chris BourkeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
** Eddie Stobart Logistics Plc said on DBAY Advisors Limited, its third-largest shareholder, has been granted more time to make a firm takeover offer for the haulage company, and that their talks are ongoing. ** Packaging firm Liqui-Box Corp agreed to sell its bag-in-box business to Peak Packaging to comply with requirements from Britain's competition watchdog over the U.S.-based company's takeover of DS Smith's plastics business. ** South Africa's Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd (Implats) said it would buy Canada-based North American Palladium Ltd for about C$1 billion ($751.77 million), marking the miner's first purchase outside of Africa.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- To understand Elliott Management Corp.’s plans for AT&T Inc., it’s worth examining how it tackled a relative telecommunications minnow in Europe. The activist investor’s 2018 fight for control of Telecom Italia SpA may have provided something of a dry run.Last year, after revealing its stake in the Italian carrier, the fund run by combative billionaire Paul Singer started with a relatively short and straightforward list of proposals: improve governance, replace the board and divest some fixed and mobile network assets to reduce debt. Over the subsequent months, perhaps as it ascertained what resonated best with other shareholders, the strategy evolved into a more extensive array of requests dressed with a more constructive air.By the end of the year, Singer had realized the goals that were supposed to right the ship. Elliott had installed a new chief executive officer, Luigi Gubitosi, who won support on expectations he would be better able to execute a turnaround program. Conveniently, Gubitosi, an Italian with a private equity background, appears more open to putting a for-sale sign on assets that Elliott wants Telecom Italia to shed.With AT&T, Elliott started off the bat with a more exhaustive set of proposals akin to those it took months to develop at Telecom Italia: operational improvements, a portfolio review, better governance, a halt to acquisitions, and an exhortation for AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson to “align management skills,” which seems to hint at personnel changes. That could mean trying to prevent the ascent of John Stankey, AT&T’s chief operating officer and heir apparent for the top role.As AT&T investors and employees dig into the details, they should ignore the noise and focus on what are probably Elliott’s ultimate goals. That doesn’t mean it will be a smooth ride for either side. Telecom Italia stock is down almost 30% from the levels at which Elliott likely bought in, and selling assets will probably take a long time. The company’s biggest shareholder, French media conglomerate Vivendi SA, has fought Elliot at every turn. At AT&T, Elliott is pushing for what looks like a more constructive approach, but the fund’s core ambitions are surely the divestment of assets, including the shrinking DirectTV business and perhaps even parts of the phone network. QuicktakeWho Really Wins When Activist Investors Attack?U.S. carriers have so far largely avoided putting their fixed-network assets up for sale, but there’s plenty of appetite from funds such as KKR & Co. to invest in the infrastructure that supports the data economy. In Europe, similar assets have been sold for close to 20 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.Elliot has also taken a page from its agenda with German business-software giant SAP SE, calling on AT&T to a halt any new acquisition plans to focus on better integrating purchases it already has in motion. That complements the Telecom Italia strategy by ruling out moves that may add to the debt pile when the goal is to reduce it.There are differences, of course. Telecom Italia was a proxy fight to secure board control. That’s not on the table at AT&T – at least, not yet. And building a meaningful enough stake in the $274 billion American firm for such a fight would be tough. But the trajectory seems the same. To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co. and China Mobile Ltd. are exploring a partnership to bid for Brazilian phone company Oi SA, O Globo Newspaper reported, without citing a source.Huawei, the phone maker caught in disputes between China and the U.S., is seeking the bid as an opportunity to enter the Brazilian market and expand its reach for 5G technology, the newspaper said. The plan also comes as the Brazilian government wants a solution for the indebted company, O Globo added.Oi declined to comment on the report, while officials at Huawei and China Mobile couldn’t be reached after regular office hours.Speculation of the bid comes as Brazil’s Senate approved a bill to update the country’s obsolete framework for telecommunications, paving the way for Oi to implement a plan to sell up to $2 billion in non-core assets. Earlier this week, Suno Notícias reported that China Mobile has filed a request to operate in Brazil and eventually acquire Oi. The country’s telecom regulatory agency Anatel said Sept. 17 it didn’t have any official information regarding the request.The Senate’s approval also sparked speculation of talks between the Brazilian carrier and other companies. In the past week, Telecom Italia SpA and Telefonica Brasil SA both denied reports in the Brazilian media that they’re in talks with Oi.The Rio de Janeiro-based telecom operator wants to sell assets including its African unit Unitel SA and focus on the last mile of its fiber-optic network, Brazil’s largest, to get revenue growing again as it enters the last phase of a two-year judicial recovery plan.Oi posted a loss of 1.56 billion reais ($376 million) last month and said it burned about 2 billion reais of cash in the second quarter, even as investors are still recovering from the company’s $19 billion debt restructuring in December 2017. The results prompted the phone giant’s largest shareholder to seek a replacement for a new chief executive officer.(Updates with regulator’s comment on earlier report on China Mobile in fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Mario Sergio Lima in Brasilia Newsroom at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at email@example.com, Ian FisherFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The Brazilian Senate's Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that will modernize Brazil's telecommunications law and boost companies in the sector by lifting restrictions on asset sales. The full Senate could vote on the bill, known as PLC 79, later on Wednesday. The law aims to encourage investment in broadband in remote areas of Brazil by allowing companies to own outright telecom assets, such as cellphone towers and valuable real estate, that they may sell if they so choose.
(Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc.’s sweeping transformation from Ma Bell to a multimedia titan has gone both too far and not far enough for Elliott Management Corp.Billionaire Paul Singer’s New York hedge fund disclosed a new $3.2 billion position in AT&T, taking on one of the nation’s biggest and most widely held companies with a plan to boost its share price by more than 50% through asset sales and cost cutting.Investors applauded the development, briefly sending AT&T shares on their biggest intraday rally in more than a decade.For Singer, the move represents one of the biggest bets in the four decades since the hard-driving activist investor founded his firm. And it strikes at the core of the way AT&T has built its bigger-is-better empire: a costly M&A binge that has turned the carrier into one of the most indebted companies on Earth.“There will be a fight,” said Chetan Sharma, a wireless-industry analyst.Elliott outlined a four-part plan for the company in a letter to its board Monday. The proposal calls for the company to explore divesting assets, including satellite-TV provider DirecTV, the Mexican wireless operations, pieces of the landline business, and others.It urges AT&T, led by Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, to exit businesses that don’t fit its strategy, run a more efficient operation and stop making major acquisitions. Elliott said it would also recommend candidates to add to AT&T’s board.In response, AT&T said it would review Elliott’s recommendations and said many of them are “ones we are already executing today.”The telecom giant said its strategy is “driven by the unique portfolio of valuable businesses we’ve assembled across communications networks and media and entertainment, and as Elliott points out, is the foundation for significant value creation.”The carrier said it believes that “growing and investing in these businesses is the best path forward for our company and our shareholders.”Still, investors seem to think Elliott’s plan could wring more value from AT&T. The shares surged as much as 5.2% to $38.14 in New York trading Monday. That was the biggest intraday jump since March 2009 and put them at their highest level since February of last year. They later settled down to a 2.7% gain amid a broader pullback in the market.Elliott said the investment -- among its largest to date -- was made because the company is deeply undervalued after a period of “prolonged and substantial underperformance.” It argued this has been marked by its shares lagging the broader S&P 500 over the past decade.It pointed to a series of strategic setbacks, including $200 billion in acquisitions, the “most damaging” of which was its $39 billion attempted purchase of T-Mobile US Inc. That deal resulted in the largest breakup fee of all time when the government blocked it in 2011 -- about $6 billion in cash and assets.“In addition to the internal and external distractions it caused itself, AT&T’s failed takeover capitalized a viable competitor for years to come,” Elliott said.The hedge fund also slammed the subsequent acquisitions of DirecTV and media giant Time Warner Inc. That puts particular pressure on Stephenson, 59, who oversaw the deals Elliott criticized in the letter.But, while the position in AT&T is large, Elliott may have a difficult time pushing for change unless it gets other investors to back its stance. Its newly disclosed stake in AT&T represents just about 1.2% of the company’s total market value.Elliott’s plan also calls for aggressive cost-cutting measures that aim to improve AT&T’s margins by 3 percentage points by 2022. Those margins have come under pressure amid cord cutting in video and widespread discounting in wireless, and Elliott said competitors like Verizon Communications Inc. have done a better job addressing those headwinds.Elliott said in the letter it has identified opportunities for savings in excess of $10 billion, but the plan would only require cost cuts of $5 billion.Elliott is also calling for a series of governance changes, including separating the roles of CEO and chairman -- currently held by Stephenson -- and the formation of a strategic review committee to identify the opportunities at hand.Transformative DealsWith a series of deals over the past several years, AT&T has transformed itself from a traditional telecom company into a multimedia behemoth. The company bought satellite-TV provider DirecTV for $67 billion in 2015, leaping into first place among U.S. pay-TV companies. Elliott criticized that deal in its letter as having come “at the absolute peak of the linear TV market.”AT&T then moved firmly into entertainment and media with the $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2018. That deal brought marquee assets such as HBO, CNN and Warner Bros.“Despite nearly 600 days passing between signing and closing (and more than a year passing since), AT&T has yet to articulate a clear strategic rationale for why AT&T needs to own Time Warner,” Jesse Cohn, a partner at Elliott, and Marc Steinberg, an associate portfolio manager, said in the letter. “While it is too soon to tell whether AT&T can create value with Time Warner, we remain cautious on the benefits of this combination.”High-Profile FightsElliott has a history of tackling some of the biggest and most high-profile companies around the globe, including EBay Inc., Pernod Ricard SA, and Bayer AG in the past year alone. The AT&T investment marks Elliott’s single largest equity investment with an activist slant.It’s not the first time Elliott has taken on a major telecommunications company, either. The hedge fund battled Vivendi SA for control of the board of Telecom Italia SpA, eventually winning control in 2018 in a fight that dragged on into this year.Those battles don’t always end in success. In Elliott’s proxy fight at Hyundai Motor Group earlier this year, investors opted not to elect its slate of directors at two of the South Korean manufacturer’s subsidiaries. But even in some of its major losses, like at Samsung Electronics Co., the repercussion of its agitations can send ripples beyond the proxy clash.Samsung managed to keep Elliott at bay in 2015 but touched off a series of events that resulted in a brief jail term for the electronics giant’s billionaire heir apparent for influence peddling, protests by hundreds of thousands of people in Seoul, and the downfall and imprisonment of South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye.Heavy DebtAT&T is the most indebted company in the world -- not counting financial firms and government-backed entities -- with $194 billion in total debt as of June, a legacy of Stephenson’s steady clip of large acquisitions. The CEO used to keep a spreadsheet of a few dozen companies that he studies on his tablet to plan his next big deal, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg in 2016.The stock is among the top 20 most widely held U.S.-traded companies among institutional investors, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s partially because of its steady dividend, which totaled $2.04 a share last year, giving investors a reliable payout in good times and bad.What Bloomberg Intelligence Says“AT&T will likely be under greater pressure to streamline operations and wring better performance out of Time Warner following the involvement of activist investor Elliott Management, yet this probably won’t prompt a change in company strategy. ... Elliott’s recommendation to spin off the DirecTV satellite business isn’t practical, in our view, as AT&T likely needs its free cash to help fund its dividend.”\-- John Butler, senior telecom analyst, and Boyoung Kim, associate analystClick here to view the research.Phone companies have also traditionally been considered a safety net for investors in bad economic times because people still need to communicate, though AT&T’s exposure to the landline business has more recently been a drag on profits because more people are shutting off their home phones and going wireless-only.Elliott’s move also put AT&T back in the cross hairs of one of its biggest critics: Donald Trump.The president, whose Justice Department unsuccessfully opposed AT&T’s Time Warner acquisition and who has slammed CNN’s coverage of him, cheered on Elliott’s efforts.“Great news that an activist investor is now involved with AT&T,” he tweeted.\--With assistance from Olga Kharif.To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Deveau in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Liana Baker at email@example.com, Nick Turner, John J. Edwards IIIFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service said on Thursday the pending approval of a new telecommunications law in Brazil is positive for the sector as it paves the way for asset sales. The Senate may vote on the bill, known as PLC 79, by Sept. 11, the chamber's president Davi Alcolumbre said this week. "The likely passage of PLC 79 would be credit positive for the entire Brazilian telecom industry, but especially for Telefonica Brasil SA and Oi SA, still in bankruptcy protection," Moody's said.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Vincent Bollore is developing an unfortunate habit of losing. The French billionaire who controls Vivendi SA emerged bruised from the latest round of his battle with former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Bollore has been trying to block the merger of Berlusconi’s Mediaset SpA with its Spanish subsidiary. Vivendi is the second-biggest investor in Mediaset but Bollore has so far been outmaneuvered. The Frenchman’s best chance of redemption lies in the courts. If he doesn’t want to imperil the deal, Berlusconi should do more to cozy up to his French adversary.The Mediaset merger will create a new Amsterdam-domiciled holding company called Media for Europe which will concentrate even more votes with the Berlusconi family, at the expense of Vivendi – that’s why Bollore wants to block the deal.The French media conglomerate owns 29% of Mediaset. However, it is currently only allowed to exercise 9.6% of the voting rights, after the Italian regulator asserted that Vivendi’s concurrent stake in Telecom Italia SpA breached rules on the concentration of media and telecoms ownership.Mediaset shareholders voted on Wednesday to approve the Spanish merger, much to Vivendi’s chagrin. Bollore now has two paths to try to block the deal. Firstly, he could exercise Vivendi’s withdrawal rights, whereby Mediaset has to pay a set fee for the French firm’s stake.That approach shouldn’t be an appealing one for Bollore. Vivendi would have to book a loss on the purchase price since it would receive 942 million euros ($1 billion) for the stake under the terms of the withdrawal, less than the roughly 1.1 billion euros it paid for it. It would also be less than the holding’s current 962-million-euro market value. What’s more, it may not even have the desired effect of blowing up the deal: Mediaset’s net debt is currently less than its forward 12-month Ebitda, well below the 1.7 times Ebitda average of its peers. That leaves plenty of headroom to fund the share purchase on the debt markets.The second avenue is the legal one. The chances there look more promising. Vivendi is seeking the ability to exercise its full voting rights in a case that an Italian court has referred to the European Court of Justice. Should the court rule in Vivendi’s favor, then it would likely have the votes to block the deal. Reuters reported in July that early European Commission legal advice suggests that restricting the voting rights contradicts laws on free movement of capital. Vivendi reiterated on Wednesday it will pursue all legal channels.The ECJ is unlikely to rule before next year, according to Reuters. Yet Mediaset has said it expects the merger to close by the end of this year. If Vivendi won the court case, it could mean that the merger would have to be unraveled, likely after the deal completes. It would all get very messy.It’s therefore in Berlusconi’s interest to get Bollore and his lieutenants back to the negotiating table. And regardless of the court ruling, does Berlusconi really want his second-biggest shareholder to be sniping at his strategy for the foreseeable future? There may yet be a way of keeping everybody happy.To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Baker at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- European phone companies are selling their mobile masts and growth-hungry U.S. tower companies have money to spend -- it looks like a marriage made in heaven.Instead, firms like American Tower Corp. and Crown Castle International Corp. are largely staying away, making it easier for Spain’s Cellnex Telecom SA and infrastructure funds managed by Macquarie Group Ltd., KKR & Co. and others to sweep up the region’s tower assets.Their hesitation is driven partly by price: the global hunt for yield has driven up the premium for these assets, which offer reliable, steady income streams. Independent tower companies also won’t pay top dollar unless they see a path to significant revenue growth -- and that’s where they have a problem with Europe.“The American tower companies say, ‘OK, Europe is fine at the right price, but prices are not where we need them to be, so we think the opportunities elsewhere are more attractive,”’ said Nick Del Deo, senior analyst at U.S. research firm MoffettNathanson.Tens of thousands of European masts are expected to see ownership changes in the next two years as companies such as Iliad SA, Vodafone Group Plc and Telecom Italia SpA bring in new investors to reduce debt and share the heavy cost of rolling out 5G technology.But only a quarter are likely to end up with independent operators, according to TowerXchange. Vodafone and CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. are creating separate units for almost 90,000 towers and the consultancy expects them to maintain control over those businesses. That’s a turn-off for independent companies, which try to maximize revenue by leasing mast space to as many network operators as possible.Many European carriers want to keep some hold on their towers because they see mobile infrastructure as a strategic asset that can help them manage costs and perhaps gain a competitive edge. They’re also mindful of what happened in the U.S., where operators rushed to sell their towers more than a decade ago only to find themselves stuck with a big bill for leases and capacity rights.Vodafone Surges on Possible IPO, Stake Sale of Towers UnitVodafone and Telefonica Ink 5G Terms in Move to U.K. Tower SalesNiel Agrees to $3 Billion of Phone Tower Sales to CellnexCK Hutchison to Separate Out European Phone Towers BusinessSelling full ownership of towers to independent players can spur innovation and reduce expenses by encouraging carriers to share infrastructure, avoiding costly duplication. European carriers’ insistence on maintaining control means the continent’s progress in rolling out 5G will likely continue to be slower compared to the U.S., where towers are largely in independent hands.“There is a risk that the European carriers go too far the other way,” Del Deo said. “The captive tower model, if you look globally, has never proven to be that effective.”For now, American Tower is mostly relying on building towers in Africa, Latin America and India for its international growth.Crown Castle didn’t respond to a request for comment on its future European asset bidding plans. American Tower declined to comment. Its chief executive officer, James Taiclet, told analysts last month that recent large European tower sales didn’t meet its bar for growth prospects and asset costs.Here are some other reasons why U.S. tower firms aren’t piling into Europe:Redundancy: Europe has more cases of towers operated by rival carriers sitting in close proximity. An independent owner may want to remove one to cut costs, but the tower often comes with a ground lease that they must keep paying for years.Less Potential: Europe has lots of rooftop antenna sites, which can’t accommodate as many customers as can a ground-based tower. Many European portfolios include broadcast towers in rural areas that may not be as valuable as mobile towers.Radio Emission Rules: In some countries, rules on maximum electromagnetic radio emissions limit the number of antennas a tower firm can install at a single site.\--With assistance from Scott Moritz.To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Pfeiffer in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at email@example.com, Jennifer Ryan, Anthony PalazzoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Swisscom AG’s Italian unit Fastweb is becoming the fifth wireless carrier in an industry that had aimed to reduce the number of mobile phone players in a bid to fight shrinking revenue.Italy’s Development Ministry awarded Fastweb the license last week, a company representative said. Fastweb, which offers high-speed internet services to consumers and businesses wants to attract more lucrative subscribers from rivals such as Telecom Italia SpA and Vodafone Group Plc in one of the world’s most competitive mobile markets.Fastweb had already provided mobile service by renting space on Telecom Italia’s network. Now, it plans to build its own infrastructure. The company paid about 200 million euros ($223 million) for mobile spectrum and towers from Tiscali SpA last year and then bought 5G frequencies for 32.6 million euros. In June, Fastweb also reached a deal with CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s Wind Tre to share investments to build 5G networks in Italy.Fastweb’s move goes against the consolidation trend in the Italian telecomunications industry that started in 2015, when VimpelCom Ltd. and Hutchison reached a deal to combine their Italian businesses. Between 2013 and 2018, the Italian mobile industry lost 2.4 billion euros of revenue due to a price war among service providers, according to the country’s communications regulator Agcom.When Wind and Tre agreed to merge, industry executives hoped consolidation would ultimately cut the number of Italian carriers to three from four.Instead, France’s Iliad SA, one of Europe’s most aggressive phone carriers in term of pricing, entered the Italian market last year following a request by the European regulator to maintain competition.To contact the reporter on this story: Daniele Lepido in Milan at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at email@example.com, Dan LiefgreenFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Large-cap companies pulled European stocks higher on Friday as a surge in Britain's Vodafone and strong earnings for media businesses and Nestle spurred recovery from a sell-off driven by the European Central Bank. Vodafone gained 10.6% to record it strongest performance since late 2002 on plans to separate its towers unit in Europe into a new company worth upwards of 18 billion euros ($20 billion) with a view to a potential stock market listing. The STOXX 600 telecoms index rose 2.3% as shares of Cellnex, currently Europe's biggest towers group, gained 3.3% and Telecom Italia rose 4.1% after Vodafone agreed to jointly roll out 5G in Italy and merge their mobile mast operations.
Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has today changed to negative from stable the outlook of Telecom Italia S.p.A. ("Telecom Italia" or "the company"), the leading Italian integrated telecommunications provider. Concurrently, Moody's has affirmed the company's Ba1 corporate family rating (CFR), Ba1-PD probability of default rating (PDR), and the ratings of all debts issued (or guaranteed) by the company, and all supported debts within its family of issuers, including the Ba1 senior unsecured ratings and (P)Ba1 MTN program ratings. "The change in outlook to negative reflects our expectation that Telecom Italia will continue to operate in a very competitive environment and with sustained high leverage, in spite of management's strong commitment to reduce debt.
(Bloomberg) -- Combining two badly performing industries usually doesn’t make them any better. Yet that’s what’s underpinning Europe’s most expensive stock.Spain’s Cellnex Telecom SA has become the highest-valued stock on the regional benchmark by serving as a landlord to the ailing telecom industry. While real estate and telecom are among the worst performers on the Stoxx 600 Index this year, Cellnex has soared after snapping up towers from carriers eager to convert their assets to cash, helping them keep up with network investments.“They are in a very sweet spot,” Neil Campling, an analyst at Mirabaud, said by phone. “The only worry at the moment for me is that the stock has moved an awful long way in a very, very short space of time.”The tower company model is fairly new to Europe, in contrast with the U.S., where American Tower Corp. and Crown Castle International Corp. began buying communication sites in the mid-1990s. Since its initial public offering in 2015, Cellnex has seized the relatively open field with aggressive dealmaking, spending 2.7 billion euros ($3.1 billion) just last month on more than 10,000 towers in Italy, France and Switzerland.The company looks set to continue its acquisition spree -- it announced on Tuesday the issuance of as much as 850 million euros in a nine-year convertible bond to fund purchases. The company has increased the number of network infrastructure sites in its portfolio by six-fold to about 45,000 in the past 4.5 years, including ones it has agreements on building for clients.Cellnex has gained nearly 60% in the first half, taking this year’s estimated price-to-earnings ratio to an eye-watering 131, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s beyond such high-growth companies as the Dutch payments prodigy Adyen NA, or computer-games maker CD Projekt SA, which is about to publish its most-hyped title ever. Cellnex declined to comment on the valuation.While Cellnex’s expected revenue growth is much slower than the other names at the top, the surveyed 12 analysts estimate its earnings per share to nearly double from 2019 to 2021. Tower stocks have showed up on investors’ radar thanks to their stable cash flows and good visibility: smaller Italian peer Inwit SpA has also had a good year with a 43% gain so far. Tower contracts are usually signed for a decade or two.“There is a premium being paid for corporates that offer visibility,’’ Guy Peddy, an analyst at Macquarie, said by phone. “Cellnex is the only clear, European, free-from-ownership-issues, tower-focused operator.”Cellnex’s biggest shareholder is Italy’s Benetton family, which owns about 30% of the stock via its investment company Edizione. The family is said to be backing former Telecom Italia SpA head Franco Bernabe to replace Marco Patuano as chairman, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.During the stellar run of the second quarter, Cellnex shares have mostly traded above the average price target, leaving analysts to play catch-up. The gap became the widest ever this week at 3 euros and currently implies a 4.8% downside to the stock, according to 27 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.In Europe, the share of telecommunications infrastructure held by independent tower companies is low compared with other regions, according to an April report by accounting and consultancy firm EY and the European Wireless Infrastructure Association (EWIA). The share of independent tower firms was a mere 17% in 2017, compared with 67% in North America and 42% in the Caribbean and Latin America. Operators could free up 28 billion euros if that share grew to 50%, the report estimates.Race to BuyOne risk to Cellnex’s tower campaign across Europe is competition for assets. The region’s emerging tower business is “not a one-horse race,” analysts at Kempen warned in a note last month, saying that Cellnex losing out on deals could lead to investor disappointment. In 2016, American Towers teamed up with Dutch pension fund PGGM Fondsenbeheer BV, beating Cellnex to win Antin Infrastructure Partners’ French phone towers.While American Towers has been more focused on emerging markets since, there’s a possibility that a private equity firm such as KKR & Co. Inc. would join the party, Giles Thorne, an analyst at Jefferies said in a note on Tuesday, keeping his buy rating and raising his price target by more than 50%.“The one candidate that has the assets and scope on paper to replicate Cellnex’s march across Europe is KKR,” Thorne said. “Its actions suggest it doesn’t see the regional synergy case for cross-border M&A. This may yet change.”Additionally, some telecom carriers see network quality as an important competitive advantage and are reluctant to relinquish control of their top sites. Tim Hoettges, chief executive officer of Deutsche Telekom AG -- which is not a client of Cellnex -- has spoken of “golden sites” as a category of differentiating network infrastructure locations the company wouldn’t be willing to share.Yet overall, tower companies are well placed to benefit from industry-specific drivers, including increased data consumption, Josh Sambrook-Smith, a thematic equity analyst at Sarasin & Partners, said by phone.“You have all the other super exciting, long-term trends,” said Sambrook-Smith. “This is just a relatively safe way to play it.”(Updates share prices from the 6th paragraph, chart)To contact the reporter on this story: Kit Rees in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Beth Mellor at email@example.com, Kasper Viita, Celeste PerriFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Elliott Management Corp. is preparing to compromise with Vivendi SA on board representation at Telecom Italia SpA to end their battle for influence over the indebted phone carrier, people familiar with the matter said.The agreement between two of Telecom Italia’s biggest shareholders will come with a pledge to pursue a common strategy, said the people, who asked not to be named as the plans are not public. The board changes are slated to be discussed by Telecom Italia’s directors later this month, they said.Telecom Italia shares were briefly suspended from trading after rising as much as 5.6%, their biggest intraday gain in four months. The stock was up 2% as of 3:54 p.m. in Milan.Details of the agreement have not been finalized and could still change, the people said.“We do not wish to comment apart from advising extreme caution on any such rumors,” Vivendi said in a statement. Representatives of Elliott and Telecom Italia declined to comment.Elliott’s allies wrested control of the board from top shareholder Vivendi in May last year and in November they forced out the company’s CEO, a Vivendi appointee. The French media company spent the following months publicly attacking Paul Singer’s New York-based activist fund in an attempt to regain control.Elliott hit back by criticizing Vivendi’s governance record and Vivendi backed down in late March when it became clear it lacked support for another boardroom coup.Since then, the two have sought privately to align around a common approach and turn the uneasy truce into a lasting peace, said a person familiar with the matter.Depressed SharesTen out of Telecom Italia’s 15 board directors are aligned with Elliott and the rest with Vivendi. Elliott wants to maintain its overall influence on the board, the person said.There is no clear answer to Telecom Italia’s problems. Competitive threats to both its legacy fixed-line network and wireless business are undermining the profits it needs to service one of the European industry’s biggest debt loads. The Milan-based carrier’s shares, which haven’t paid a regular dividend for the past six years, tumbled to a record intraday low in January.The biggest strategic flashpoint has been Elliott’s call for a full spinoff of the landline network to help pay down debt, an idea that Vivendi resisted. Chief Executive Officer Luigi Gubitosi has focused for now on cutting costs and doing deals to share the burden of new network spending, and results in May showed those efforts were starting to pay off.The CEO has pushed for some form of tie-up with fixed-line rival Open Fiber SpA to shore up the landline business. Any combination or spinoff of the landline business is fraught with regulatory and political risks.(Adds Vivendi response in fifth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Tommaso Ebhardt and Daniele Lepido.To contact the reporters on this story: Angelina Rascouet in Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org;Scott Deveau in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at firstname.lastname@example.org, Thomas Pfeiffer, Ben ScentFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.