Cellnex removes two important board members under pressure

Cellnex, a leading telecom tower company with 135,000 sites in Europe, said two of its board members have resigned following pressure on the company’s management from its largest shareholder, activist fund TCI.
Cellnex telecom tower businessSpain-based Cellnex’s key shareholders include GIC, Edizione, TCI, JP Morgan, CPP Investments, Blackrock, CK Hutchison, CriteriaCaixa and Norges Bank.

Cellnex said former board chairman Bertrand Kan and Peter Shore, both independent directors, quit with immediate effect, citing irreconcilable differences with the board in relation to the management, governance and succession process of the company.

Christopher Hohn who runs TCI on March 23 requested the removal of both Bertrand Kan and Peter Shore – board members since 2015. Christopher Hohn argued the search for a new Cellnex Chief Executive Officer under way had been mishandled by the board and resulted in insufficient progress.

Cellnex announced last week that Bertrand Kan was stepping down as non-executive chairman but remained a board member. He was replaced by board member Anne Bouverot as non-executive chair.

TCI has become Cellnex’s largest shareholder with a 9 percent stake, including 5.9 percent in derivatives, surpassing Italian group Edizione.

In his letter to the company last month, Hohn requested that TCI’s representative Jonathan Amouyal be included on the board.

Cellnex did not say who would replace the outgoing board members.

The Barcelona-based group announced in January that its chief executive Tobias Martinez would step down in June after it embarked on a strategy shift away from acquisitions to focus on reducing its debt.

Reuters reported last week that Cellnex was close to hiring an adviser to help tackle demands made by TCI.

BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs Group and JPMorgan Chase, which have advised the company in the past, are contenders for the role.

Bertrand Kan and Peter Shore have served on Cellnex’s board since the IPO in May 2015. At the IPO, Cellnex operated in 2 countries and had 15,000 telecom sites. Cellnex at present has a presence in 12 countries and more than 135,000 sites.

In the last 8 years, Cellnex undertook four capital increases for an aggregate of almost 15 billion Euros, raised 19 billion Euros of debt and made around 40 acquisitions, including the purchase of Arqiva’s telecommunications division in the United Kingdom; the acquisition of Illiad’s towers in France, Switzerland, Italy and Poland; and the agreement with Hutchison in October 2021 that involved 6 European countries and has been Cellnex’s largest acquisition to date.

“I would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for these 8 years of commitment and dedication to the Cellnex project. Bertrand and Peter have played a key role in this amazing journey since our IPO in 2015,” Anne Bouverot, Chair of Cellnex, said.