Coillte, the State-owned forestry and landowning company, is aiming to raise up to €60 million by selling off the vast network of mobile phone masts located within its forests, one of the largest such portfolios in the country.
Following talks with the Government, the company has put its telecoms masts up for sale to raise cash to fund fresh investment in wind farms and also for its Smart Ply wood products business.
Coillte’s telecoms division comprises more than 400 towers used primarily by mobile phone operators, but also by broadband companies and broadcasters.
The portfolio includes about 115 masts directly owned by Coillte, with the remainder owned by telecoms companies who obtain leases to locate them on the taxpayer-owned forestry land under the control of Coillte. The company is the registered owner of about 7 per cent of the land mass of Ireland.
Coillte has appointed Goodbody Corporate Finance to find a buyer for the tower network. A memorandum for the sale has been prepared and is being distributed to a number of interested parties.
Potential buyers for the network, which sources speculated will fetch between €50 million and €60 million, could include Shared Access, a US-backed company that previously struck a deal with the FAI to provide funding for floodlights at soccer grounds in return for being allowed to erect telecoms masts.
Another potential bidder is Towercom, which is owned by the Irish Infrastructure Fund.
Group, which owns about 2,000 masts in the UK, is also being viewed as a possible buyer.
“Coillte can confirm that, following an agreement with Government, it has decided to sell its telecoms assets to part fund its investment in its Smart Ply business and its pipeline of wind energy projects,” said the company.
Coillte is investing about €59 million in a new Smart Ply facility in Kilkenny.