TV, radio and mobile phone mast company which carried first BBC television broadcast expected to be valued at £6bn by listing

Arqiva, the owner of TV, radio and mobile phone masts across Britain, is to float with a projected market value of £6bn in what will be the UK’s largest stock market listing so far this year.

The listing is expected to value the company, which carried the BBC’s first television broadcast in 1936 and is an investor in the YouView TV platform, at about £6bn including debt.

The company is expected to enter the FTSE 100 when it is admitted to the stock market next month.

Arqiva, which is looking to float after sale talks broke down last week, is seeking to raise £1.5bn to pay down £600m of debt.

The move will reduce interest costs by £57m annually. As a result of the flotation, more than £2.5bn of shareholder loans will convert into equity.

The listing of at least 25% of the company, which is owned by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Australian private equity firm Macquarie, is expected to be the largest in terms of proceeds in London so far this year.

“Arqiva provides the critical infrastructure and skilled workforce that ensures the effective operation of the UK’s television, radio, telecoms and smart meters,” said Simon Beresford-Wylie, its chief executive. “We are at the heart of communications and enablers of the vibrant digital economy. We are very much looking forward to bringing our unique combination of leading assets and skills to the public markets.”

Arqiva said it did not regard Brexit as a major risk to the business as 95% of its £5.7bn future order book was within the UK.

Arqiva has turned to a stock market flotation after sale talks with a consortium led by Canada’s Brookfield Investments broke down.

The company employs more than 2,000 people and reported revenues of almost £1bn for the year ended 30 June. It made profits of £567m for the period.

The company said it expected to pay about £195m in dividends in its current financial year.

It has also announced that it is adding Mike Darcey, a former senior executive at Sky and chief executive of News UK, and Paul Donovan, a former chief executive of Odeon cinema group, to the board. Frank Dangeard, a former deputy chief executive of France Telecom, will also join the board.

“The initial public offering will enable Arqiva’s leadership team to continue to execute on its proven strategy, whilst pursuing additional growth opportunities through our tower portfolio and investing in next generation 5G and fibre technology and returning significant amounts to shareholders,” said Mike Parton, independent non-executive chairman of Arqiva. “Following the IPO, the group’s balance sheet will be appropriate for an asset-rich infrastructure company with long-term contracts, blue-chip clients and strong cash flows.”

 

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