Brookfield Infrastructure has continued its Christmas spending spree with the acquisition of Cincinnati Bell for $2.6 Billion.
Shareholders will welcome a 36% premium on share price, with Brookfield Infrastructure paying $10.50 in cash at closing of the transaction. The proposal has already been unanimously approved by Cincinnati Bell’s Board of Directors and now moves through to the regulatory approval process.
“The transaction strengthens our financial position, enabling accelerated investment in our strategic products that is not presently available to Cincinnati Bell as a standalone company,” said Leigh Fox, CEO of Cincinnati Bell. “This will allow us to drive growth and maximize value over the long term to the benefit of all our stakeholders.”
“This investment represents an opportunity for Brookfield Infrastructure to acquire a great franchise and leading fiber network operator in North America,” said Sam Pollock, CEO of Brookfield Infrastructure. “We are excited to leverage our operating expertise to work with the company’s management team as it completes its industry-leading fiber optic rollout plan. Cincinnati Bell is a great addition to our data infrastructure portfolio, and we expect it will contribute strong utility-like cash flows with predictable growth.”
For Brookfield Infrastructure, this closes a very busy end to 2019, with the team investing considerable funds in the telecom infrastructure business. Aside from this transaction, the team has confirmed the acquisition of Reliance Industries’ mobile infrastructure business unit in India and also a 93% stake in Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG), an operator-neutral infrastructure provider in the UK.
Looking at Cincinnati Bell, the attractive fibre assets in Hawaii, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana will now be offered a super-charge with additional investments from the seemingly cash-rich Canadians. The telco currently has a footprint of over 1.3 million homes, delivering broadband, video and voice services to consumer and enterprise customers. 17,000 miles of dense metro and last-mile cables have been ‘future-proofed’, and with the customer appetite for fibre and 5G backhaul getting more evident, it makes sense the money-men are starting to get more interested in communications infrastructure.
The industry does seem to be demonstrating a useful convergence trend in recent months. Investment funds are becoming more interested in infrastructure investments, while the telcos are getting more desperate for additional funds to fuel deployment strategies. It might not be a surprise to see more of these deals over the early months of 2020.