Arqiva suitor walks away from £6bn sale, upping chances of stock market float

Oliver Gill
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Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards
Arqiva sponsors the British Academy television awards (Source: Getty)

The £6bn sale of television masts giant Arqiva is facing collapse after one of the main bidders withdrew from the running, according to reports.

A conglomerate led by GIC, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund is understood to have walked away from the auction following concerns over declining TV audiences, the Sunday Times reported.

The move leaves Canadian property firm Brookfield is the only major player interested in Arqiva.

With one party left at the table, it is looking more likely that owners Macquarie and the Canada Pension Plan will revert to their plan B, a stock market listing.

Read more: Arqiva picks banks in £6bn float plans

Although Arqiva dominates the UK sector for TV and radio masts, its business is challenged by the growing trend to watch TV on demand. Britons are increasingly inclined stream videos online rather than watch programmes live.

A stock market float is seen as riskier given the current state of the IPO market. A number of companies, such as O2 owner Telefonica and Misys, have called off plans to list amid concerns of market uncertainty.

A listing could also put the firm at odds with the desires of its top executives, who are keen to put Arqiva at the forefront of the development and roll out of 5G. Such plans would likely be more capital intensive and require additional investment, eating into the initial returns of cash-hungry stock market investors.

Arqiva has been approached for comment.

Read more: One of Canada’s largest pension fund firms is mulling a £6bn bid for Arqiva

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