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Tele Columbus considering options for grid unit -sources

FRANKFURT/BERLIN, Aug 13 – German telecoms operator Tele Columbus is considering options for its grid unit as the highly-levered company seeks to raise money for planned investment in its fiber network, people close to the matter said.

The company is working with Bank of America on the deal, which could see infrastructure investors take a stake in the fiber network, they said.

Tele Columbus and Bank of America declined to comment.

Tele Columbus’ largest shareholder, United Internet , said that Tele Columbus was currently in a strategy development process, declining to comment further.

The company had 1.4 billion euros ($1.66 billion) in debt at the end of March. Its first-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization stood at 55 million euros. Second-quarter results are due next week.

It capital expenditure was down 12% in the quarter, while most peers are increasing investment to benefit from growing demand for broadband internet access.

Chief Executive Daniel Ritz said in May that the company had multiple options to monetize its infrastructure, including bringing in investors or raising capital. “All options are open,” he had said on a call with analysts.

Infrastructure investors are snapping up fiber assets across Europe – including in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany – attracted by the stable returns offered by an industry that has been resilient during the coronavirus pandemic. ($1 = 0.8447 euros) (Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Douglas Busvine and Nadine Schimroszik, editing by Thomas Escritt)

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