January 27, 2023

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Unity Digital, PLDT ink deal to sell 650 telecom towers

Unity Digital Infrastructure Inc., a joint venture between Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. and global private markets firm Partners Group, through its portfolio company Terra Digital Philippines Corp. signed a purchase agreement and framework agreement with PLDT Inc.

The agreement includes the acquisition of 650 telecom towers and associated passive telecom infrastructure for P9.2 billion through a sale and leaseback transaction.

The telecom towers to be acquired are located in the Visayas and Mindanao territories, providing Unity with a portfolio of strategic locations across the country.

“The Philippines is an emerging technology powerhouse and one of Asia’s fast-growing digital economies. But despite the country’s increasing reliance on digital technologies, it lags behind other Southeast Asian countries in terms of network connectivity,” said Andrew Kwok, Managing Director, Head Private Infrastructure Asia, Partners Group.

“We see Unity playing a key role in bridging this gap by building a tower portfolio that aligns with our vision to transform it into the premier telecom infrastructure platform in the Philippines.”

By building its portfolio of tower properties, Unity plans to serve as a one-stop infrastructure provider for mobile network operators.

“In line with Aboitiz Group’s Great Transformation journey, the acquisition of these assets further expands Unity’s digital footprint and footprint in the country. This initiative will further support our commitment to improving and providing reliable connectivity for mobile network operators, which in turn would fuel the growth of the Philippines’ digital economy,” said Cosette Canilao, President and CEO of Aboitiz InfraCapital.

“As a result of this partnership with Unity, we expect further improvements in our network quality, quality of service and customer experience in the Visayas and Mindanao. Enhanced connectivity will support the digitization of the Philippines and bring benefits to all Filipinos,” said Alfredo Panlilio, President and CEO of PLDT and Smart.

In line with the Philippine government’s common tower policy, Unity’s ongoing investments in tower infrastructure assets will help improve information and communications technology across the country, benefiting millions of Filipinos who turn to the internet for their daily activities are dependent.

“We believe that through these digital portfolio expansion initiatives, Aboitiz can help close the connectivity and internet access gaps in the country. It also positions us as a leader in digital infrastructure, which greatly contributes to our goal of becoming the Philippines’ premier tech glomerate,” said Sabin M. Aboitiz, President and CEO of Aboitiz Group.

Acquiring existing towers and developing new towers accelerates Unity’s goal of becoming a major player in the local shared tower industry. With this acquisition, Unity Digital Infrastructure is poised to have 1,000 active macro towers and approximately 500 small cell masts in key cities nationwide.

Greenhill and Co. acted as sole financial advisor to Unity Digital on the transaction.