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Unity Digital Infrastructure acquires 650 telecom towers from Smart and Digitel

Unity Digital Infrastructure
In-photo (from Left): Aboitiz InfraCapital President and CEO Cosette V. Canilao, PLDT and Smart President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio, Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz, PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, and Unity CEO Robin Sarmiento during the recent ceremonial signing event at the PLDT head office in Makati City (photo courtesy of PLDT)

Unity Digital Infrastructure Inc. (“Unity”), a joint venture between Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. (“AIC”) and leading global private markets firm Partners Group (acting on behalf of its clients), through their portfolio company Terra Digital Philippines Corporation, have signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement and a Master Agreement with PLDT Inc. (“PLDT”), through its subsidiaries Smart Communications, Inc. (“Smart”) and Digitel Mobile Philippines (“Digitel”), for the acquisition of 650 telecommunications towers and related passive telecommunications infrastructure for PHP 9.2 billion, through a sale and leaseback transaction.

Following the successful acquisition of these digital assets from one of the top telecom companies in the country, Unity continues to grow and scale, further improving its services in providing safe, fast and reliable communication to its growing customer bases. The telecom towers that will be purchased are situated in the Visayas and Mindanao areas, which provides Unity a high-quality portfolio of strategic locations across the country.

Andrew Kwok, Managing Director, Head Private Infrastructure Asia, Partners Group, said: “The Philippines is a rising technology powerhouse and one of Asia’s fast growing digital economies. However, despite the country’s increasing reliance on digital technologies, it is behind other Southeast Asian countries in terms of network connectivity. We see Unity playing a key role in addressing this gap through building a tower portfolio, which is aligned with our vision of transforming it into the leading telecommunications infrastructure platform in the Philippines.”

Tower infrastructure will play a crucial role in the anticipated exponential growth of local and global digital economies over the next few years and the rising demand of Filipinos for digital connectivity. Through building its portfolio of tower properties, Unity plans to serve as a one-stop infrastructure provider for mobile network carriers.

“Aligned with the Aboitiz Group’s Great Transformation journey, the acquisition of these assets further expands Unity’s digital footprint and presence in the country. This initiative will continue to support our commitment to improve and provide reliable connectivity to mobile network operators, which would, in turn, advance the growth of Philippines’ digital economy,” shared Aboitiz InfraCapital President and CEO Cosette Canilao.

The recent development in Unity’s tower infrastructure portfolio also supports AIC’s mission of enabling businesses and uplifting communities through better infrastructure.

“We’re happy to have sealed this agreement with PLDT that will support Unity in its thrust of building robust and inclusive telecommunications infrastructure for the future. Our mission is to ensure better connectivity for all Filipinos across the country with the deployment of more towers in the next five years,” said Unity CEO Robin Sarmiento.

“As a result of this partnership with Unity, we expect further enhancements to our network quality, service excellence and customer experience across the Visayas and Mindanao. The improved connectivity will support the digitalization of the Philippines, bringing benefits to all Filipinos,” said PLDT and Smart President and CEO Alfredo Panlilio.

In line with the Philippine government’s common tower policy, Unity’s ongoing investment in tower infrastructure assets will help improve the information and communication technology across the country, benefitting millions of Filipinos who rely on the internet for their daily activities.

“We believe that, through these digital portfolio expansion initiatives, Aboitiz will be able to help address the gaps in connectivity and Internet access in the country. It also positions us as a leader in digital infrastructure, which greatly contributes to our goal of becoming the Philippines’ first techglomerate,” said Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz.

The acquisition of existing towers and development of new towers accelerates Unity’s goal of becoming a major player in the local common tower industry. With this acquisition, Unity Digital Infrastructure is poised to have over 1,000 active macro towers and around 500 poles for small cells in key cities nationwide.

Greenhill & Co. acted as sole financial advisor to Unity Digital Infrastructure for this transaction.

About Unity Digital Infrastructure

Unity Digital Infrastructure, Inc. is a joint venture telecommunications infrastructure platform by Aboitiz InfraCapital of the Aboitiz Group and leading global private markets firm, Partners Group, acting on behalf of its clients.

Unity builds and operates telecommunication towers and supporting infrastructure across the Philippines, to help local telcos boost connectivity and service reliability.

For more information, visit: https://www.unitydigitalinfra.com/.

About AEV

Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV) is the public holding company of the Aboitiz Group with major investments in power, banking and financial services, food, infrastructure, land, and data science and artificial intelligence. Today, AEV is recognized as one of the best-managed companies in the Philippines and in the region, consistently cited for its commitment to good corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. With five generations of Aboitiz Group business success behind it, AEV continues to drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities.

The Aboitiz Group is a member of the Global Compact Network Philippines Board of Trustees and helps champion the Philippines’ sustainability initiatives on an international level through policies, advocacies, and initiatives that align with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The company has also launched its #OneAboitizSustainability Framework which aims to transform its life-essential businesses into having improved sustainable practices and positively impact the environment and society.

To know more about the #OneAboitizSustainability programs, please visit: https://sustainability.aboitiz.com/.

About Aboitiz InfraCapital

Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc., the infrastructure arm of the Aboitiz Group, aims to build purpose-driven infrastructure that spurs economic growth and improves lives. It develops Economic Estates as well as Water, Digital Infrastructure, and Transport & Mobility projects that enable businesses and uplift communities.

Its current business units include the LIMA Estate and LIMA Water Corporation in Batangas, Mactan Economic Zone 2 Estate and West Cebu Estate in Cebu, Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc. in Davao, and Unity Digital Infrastructure, Inc. The company also has a minority stake in Balibago Waterworks System, Inc., a privately-owned waterworks utility system.

For more information, visit www.aboitizinfracapital.com or follow Aboitiz InfraCapital on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

About Partners Group

Partners Group is a leading global private markets firm. Since 1996, the firm has invested USD 185 billion in private equity, private real estate, private debt, and private infrastructure on behalf of its clients globally. Partners Group seeks to generate strong returns through capitalizing on thematic growth trends and transforming attractive businesses and assets into market leaders. The firm is a committed, responsible investor and aims to create sustainable returns with lasting, positive impact for all its stakeholders. With USD 131 billion in assets under management as of 30 June 2022, Partners Group provides an innovative range of bespoke client solutions to institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, family offices and private individuals globally. The firm employs more than 1,600 diverse professionals across 20 offices worldwide and has regional headquarters in Baar-Zug, Switzerland; Denver, USA; and Singapore. It has been listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange since 2006 (symbol: PGHN). For more information, please visit www.partnersgroup.com or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

About PLDT

PLDT is the Philippines’ largest fully integrated telco company. Through its principal business groups – from fixed line to wireless – PLDT offers a wide range of telecommunications and digital services across the Philippines’ most extensive fiber optic backbone, and fixed line and cellular networks. PLDT is listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE:TEL) and its American Depositary Shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:PHI). PLDT has one of the largest market capitalizations among Philippine-listed companies.

For more information, visit: www.pldt.com

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