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Unity Digital Infrastructure acquires 650 telecom towers from Smart and Digitel

Press Release

December 16, 2022

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

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.

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