Vodafone's Vantage Towers climbs after Germany's biggest IPO in three years

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Shares in Vodafone’s Vantage Towers rose on Thursday in Germany’s largest stock market debut in three years, benefiting from strong investor appetite for infrastructure assets with stable returns.

FILE PHOTO: Different types of 4G, 5G and data radio relay antennas for mobile phone networks are pictured on a relay mast operated by Vodafone in Berlin, Germany April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

Its shares were up 3.3% at 24.8 euros at the market open, compared with an offer price of 24 euros, which had been set in the lower half of the 22.50 to 29 euro marketing range.

Vodafone is earning as much as 2.3 billion euros ($2.8 billion) – taking into account a 300 million euro over-allotment option, or greenshoe – in a deal that values Vantage Towers at 12.1 billion euros.

“This IPO unlocks value for our shareholders: it demonstrates the value of our towers assets in a 5G world,” Vodafone Chief Executive Nick Read said.

Telecom towers have become the target of several big deals as Spain’s Cellnex and U.S.-based American Tower Corp race to expand in Europe for the roll-out of next-generation 5G technology.

Upgrading networks, including telecoms towers, for the faster technology will soak up some $890 billion between 2020 and 2025, the GSMA industry body says.

European operators are increasingly willing to exploit their assets to help finance those upgrades.

While selling towers outright would bring in piles of cash, many telecoms firms are looking to spin off their tower businesses, or launch joint ventures with independent companies, as a way to keep a chunk of potential future growth.

Assuming the Vantage Towers greenshoe is fully exercised, Vodafone would still hold 81% of the telecom towers company.

Demand in the initial public offering (IPO) outstripped the shares on offer multiple times, with strong demand from global investors and sector specialists. So-called cornerstone investors received 41%, the bookrunners said.

Infrastructure investor and operator Digital Colony and Singapore-based global equity fund RRJ had agreed to buy a total of 950 million euros in shares.

The deal is one of several European listings this year, including Polish e-commerce firm InPost, German used-car trading platform AUTO1, British footwear brand Dr. Martens and food delivery firm Deliveroo.

($1 = 0.8367 euros)

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