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Cellnex must renew two directors at the key meeting scheduled for June

Date: March 26, 2023 Time: 12:11:29

Cellnex faces key months of very relevant changes in its leadership. The Spanish telecommunications infrastructure manager must renew two of the positions on the board of directors, one of them is that of the Benetton family (Edizione). She will also ratify the appointment of one of the independent directors. She will do so at the general shareholders’ meeting scheduled for June 1 and in which, predictably, the appointment of the new CEO to replace Tobías Martínez will be confirmed.

The mandate of Christian Coco, representative of Edizione, ends this year and must be ratified for three more years. The ‘family office’ of the Italian family, which concluded the takeover bid for Atlantia together with Blackstone at the end of last year, being one of the heavyweights in the shareholding despite the strong dilution suffered in the group’s latest capital increases . Today it maintains 8.5% of the titles in its possession and is the first shareholder. The logical thing is that it remains in the highest decision-making body and that, therefore, Coco repeats as Sunday.

Another of the positions that must be renewed in the highest decision-making body for another three years is that of an independent: Marieta del Rivero Bermejo. The non-executive president of Onivia, the fiber manager created by the Macquaire, Aberdeen, Daiwa Energy and Arjun Infrastructure Partners funds, has the option of two more terms in the company. It entered in 2017. The limit in the council’s regulations -and in the CNMV’s Good Governance code- is twelve years. In addition to its renewal, there is the ratification of Ana García Grau, also as an independent, who was appointed by co-optation last summer.

The figure of Chris Hohn continues to fly over the company. He was one of the internal voices that pushed to achieve the change in strategy that was committed to reducing debt and achieving the ‘rating’, abandoning the tower-buying race of recent years. The hedge fund that he leads, The Children’s Investment Fund Management, has 7.5% of the shares, as reflected in the official Cellnex documentation. In voting rights, he has a significantly lower percentage, since he has executed these transactions through derivatives. Just a year ago now he left the highest body of Aena. Despite raising his position in the tower manager and in Ferrovial, he has not yet claimed a seat in either of them.

Renewals must be made at the ordinary general meeting that will take place on June 1. in that meeting in which the annual accounts will also be ratified by the current CEO, Tobías Martínez, as the last task before making his resignation effective two days later. What is foreseeable is that in that assembly the appointment of his replacement will be approved, which must be previously approved by the board of directors itself. Although it is possible that an interim is appointed while it is definitively designated in the event that there was not a sufficient agreement.

The Appointments Committee has already appointed a specialized ‘headhunter’ who will have to propose a shortlist as a successor. In the past, the chosen one has been Korn Ferry, which has been in charge, for example, of an analysis of the contingency plan for external candidates who could replace Martínez. The ‘hard core’ of the listed company would bet on a continuation appointment for this new stage, with Alex Mestre, ‘number 2’ of the company, as one of the favorites.

To ‘winter quarters’

The reality is that nothing has been decided yet. The moment is especially delicate, because after years of an expansionary cycle, it is time to enter the ‘winter quarters’ to digest the latest purchases and reduce the debt and prop up the balance sheet. The Barcelona-based company has committed to attaining rating agency S&P’s BBB- investment grade rating – an improvement from its current BB+ – and maintaining its current rating on Fitch. This will imply cost optimization and greater financial discipline, which would lead to a positive cash flow in the medium term, for a potential payment of more generous dividends.

40% of its value due to the change in the macroeconomic scenario and less enthusiasm from investors for this sector -American Tower saw how the price was cut by nearly 30% in the same period-. Rumors of a potential interest from the American company have favored this impulse in recent weeks. An interest to which analysts have been giving less credibility.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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