Orange yesterday launched its mobile phone tower division, dubbed Totem, which will bring together 25,500 sites in France and Spain. Teleco will explore the option of integrating assets from other of its European divisions. In Spain, Totem will have 7,900 macro-sites, with proforma revenues in 2020 of 152 million euros (143 million in 2019).
In the presentation, the CEO of the Orange group, Stephane Richard, was critical of independent groups, such as Cellnex, indicating that they could damage the company’s interests in the long term. The manager was favorable to the search for agreements with large European operators such as Deutsche Telekom or Vodafone, which plans to take part of the capital of Vantage Towers, its new division in the field of towers, public.
Richard said there are currently no negotiations, although he indicated that he has received signs of potential consolidations. The executive indicated that the company is prepared to sell part of the capital of Totem to investors or for a placement on the stock market.
In any case, he made it clear that Orange will not lose control of these assets, ruling out their sale to companies such as Cellnex or American Tower, which has just bought the towers from Telxius, a Telefónica subsidiary that, in turn, has become the first incumbent to leave this area.
In this sense, the CEO of Orange Spain, Jean-François Fallacher, highlighted that Telefónica is the only one of the large companies that has sold these assets, indicating that to maintain control it is possible to have 50% of the capital plus one share.
In any case, Richard’s words come at a time of shaking in the sector, with numerous operations for the sale of mobile telephony sites by telecoms.
Cellnex, among others, is the most prominent company in this area, having just bought the Hutchison towers in Europe for 10 billion euros, as well as the Altice sites in France, for another 5.2 billion, and those of Deutsche Telekom in Holland. The company plans to place its park above 120,000 towers.
In geographical terms, Cellnex, which in 2019 bought a tower package from Orange in Spain, has become strong in France, where it has Orange’s three competitors as clients: SFR, Bouygues and Iliad.