Arqiva’s plans in the air as it cancels £1.5bn IPO

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Infrastructure company Arqiva had already failed to find a trade buyer and now it drops plans for a share flotation

Infrastructure company Arqiva has dropped its plan to raise £1.5 billion in a share flotation, only 11 days after announcing it.

The decision is the latest blow to Arqiva, which in September saw a number of potential suitors, including Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund and Canadian investor Brookfield walk away from a proposal to buy it from private equity owners.

The company announced first thing this morning that it will postpone its initial public offering (IPO), which it announced only at the beginning of last week. It blamed market uncertainty.

“The board and shareholders have decided that pursuing a listing in this period of IPO market uncertainty is not in the interests of the company and its stakeholders, and will revisit the listing once IPO market conditions improve,” it said in a brief announcement.

Arqiva had been hoping to sell 25% of the company for £1.5 billion, a deal that would value it at £6 billion.

Its owners include the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board and Macquarie, as well as a number of institutional investors.

Brookfield, which also turned down the opportunity to buy into Arqiva, is the same company that was planning to buy a controlling share of Reliance Infratel, the Indian infrastructure arm of Reliance Communications (RCom), until RCom made the offer less attractive by dropping its plan to merge with Aircel.

Arqiva owns radio and TV transmitter masts in the UK and also mobile masts used by Vodafone, BT’s EE and Telefónica’s O2. It is also moving into the small-cell business.

On 23 October – Monday of last week – Arqiva CEO Simon Beresford-Wylie said of the IPO: “Arqiva provides the critical infrastructure and skilled workforce that ensures the effective operation of the UK’s television, radio, telecoms and smart meters. … The group’s strong cash flows and stable, long term capital structure will allow Arqiva to invest in its operations to drive future growth and pay a generous dividend. We are very much looking forward to bringing our unique combination of leading assets and skills to the public markets.”