The telecommunications company's head office in Madrid. / sur

Telefónica has sold 45% of its rural fibre optic business for over one billion euros

Vauban and Credit Agricole are taking over that part of the business to speed up fibre optic connections so the copper cable network can be shut down in 2024

JOSÉ MARÍA CAMARERO Madrid

Telefónica has sold 45% of its fibre optic business in rural areas of Spain to a consortium formed by Vauban Infrastructure Partners (the Natixis investment fund) and Predica, which is part of Crédit Agricole’s insurance business, for 1.02 billion euros.

With the French consortium, Telefónica will form a company called Bluevia, which will receive 3.5 million real estate fibre optic units from the group and will be valued at 2.5 billion euros, according to information sent to the National Securities Market Commission on Monday morning.

Bluevia will deploy 1.5 million fibre optic units over the next two years in areas where Telefónica still has clients with copper cable connections. The firm wants to close down its retail copper network in 2024.

Teléfonica says the Bluevia network will be rolled out in rural areas where there is little overlap with other operators and will provide wholesale services to other operators.

Teléfonica España will hold 30% of Bluevia’s capital, and Teléfonica Infra will hold 25%. The company will be run by former corporative strategy director Luis Rivero.

Emilio Gayo, the president of Telefónica España, said that this new venture will be a key enabler to speeding up fibre optic connections in rural areas, at a time when the copper cable network is being phased out.

Telecommunications companies have been active in the mergers and acquisitions market in Spain in the past week. On Saturday MásMóvil and Orange announced that they have agreed to merge, if the move is approved by the competition authorities.

Previously, the operator run by Meinrad Spenger had sold 51% of a company with 1.2 million homes in Euskatel’s access network to a group of Basque shareholders in an operation worth 580 million euros.