By Amy-Jo Crowley, Andres Gonzalez and Paul Sandle
LONDON (Reuters) – Virgin Media O2 is in exclusive talks to sell a slice of its shareholding in Britain’s largest mobile tower network to GLIL Infrastructure, according to four sources familiar with the matter, in a deal that could value the business at about 2.5 billion pounds ($3.03 billion).
GLIL, a partnership of British pension funds, has prevailed over other investment firms in an auction that Virgin Media O2’s owners, Liberty Global and Telefonica, held for part of their 50% stake in the tower company, called Cornerstone, earlier this year, the sources said on Friday.
If negotiations are concluded successfully, a deal for a minority stake of less than 25% could be announced as early as next week, two of the sources added.
The sources cautioned that there remained a chance that no deal would be completed and asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.
Telefonica and Liberty Global have been working with advisers on the sale of up to half of their combined 50% stake in Cornerstone.
Vodafone owns the rest of the business through its Frankfurt-based subsidiary Vantage Towers.
Spokespeople for Telefonica, Liberty Global, Virgin Media O2 and GLIL declined to comment.
Cornerstone, established in 2012, is Britain’s largest tower company, managing more than 20,000 sites, according to the company’s website.
In recent years infrastructure and private equity investors have competed for slices in some of the largest tower deals, including Deutsche Telekom’s sale of a majority stake in GD Towers, because of their stable cash yield and long-term contracts.
($1 = 0.8241 pounds)
(Reporting by Amy-Jo Crowley and Andres Gonzalez, with additional reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Helen Popper)