European Commission clears merger of INWIT and Vodafone Italy’s towers

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This “Combination” will create Europe’s second-largest listed tower company with over 22,000 towers.

INWIT (in English, Italian Wireless Infrastructure Tower Operator Neutral Host) was set up in 2015.

After talks with the Commission, Vodafone and TIM have made commitments to support access to INWIT’s passive infrastructure by all market participants – previously Iliad had asked the Italian regulator, Arcom, to look into the the proposed tower deal bewteen INWIT and Vodafone.

INWIT is to make space available to third parties on 4,000 of its towers in urban areas while supporting existing tenancies.

The commitments ensure that INWIT can maximise tower use and enable Vodafone and TIM to roll out their respective 5G networks without hindrance.

Active equipment sharing

The Commission confirmed it supports Vodafone and TIM’s plans to share active network equipment outside of major cities, allowing a faster deployment of 5G over a wider geographic area, at a lower cost, and with a lower environmental impact.

The active sharing partnership will exclude municipalities with populations of over 100,000 inhabitants, as well as their more densely populated suburbs.

The Combination was approved with 99.9% of the votes by INWIT minority shareholders in favour. It is expected the new entity will be set up by the end of March, and Vodafone will receive proceeds of €2.14 billion, as announced in July 2019.

Vodafone and TIM will each hold a 37.5% shareholding in INWIT, which will pay a special dividend of €0.5936 to holders of the company’s post-merger ordinary shares, as approved by INWIT’s shareholders on 19 December 2019.