EBRD supports 5G roll-out in Poland

By Katarzyna Kukula

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·        EBRD invests PLN 100 million in Polish mobile network operator Play

·        Play to invest in energy-efficient 5G roll-out

·        Accelerating digitalisation vital in new economy after Covid-19

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the Polish mobile network operator Play with an investment of PLN 100 million (€22 million) in a senior unsecured bond in favour of the company.

The total volume of the issuance was PLN 500 million. The bond was issued on the Polish local capital market, placed with a wide group of institutional investors and will be listed on the Alternative Trading System of the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Santander Bank Polska S.A. acted as the arranger.

Play, the brand name of the company P4 Sp. z.o.o., which was recently acquired by French telecommunications challenger Iliad S.A., is a leading mobile network operator in Poland, with more than 15 million subscribers as of June 2020 and a subscriber market share of around 28 per cent. The company will invest the funds in a roll-out of 5G technology, spearheading an acceleration of digitalisation across the country.

With the investment in 5G technology, which implies lower energy consumption compared to previous technologies, the company will intensify its efforts to improve the energy efficiency of its network and offer customers faster and more reliable mobile broadband.

Dirk Werner, Director, Head of Telecommunications, Media and Technology at the EBRD, commented: “The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically demonstrated the need to accelerate the digitalisation of the economy. Play’s investment in 5G, the latest mobile communications technology, is an important step for Poland’s progress with this transformation. While we are all hoping to overcome the current crisis, we can already see lasting changes through the digitalisation of our economies and, for this technology, companies such as Play will be indispensable.”

Jean-Marc Harion, CEO of Play, said: “Play’s second bond issuance further diversified its funding structure and secured financing for its 5G network development. Delivering the most modern and the fastest available technology to our clients is our key priority. Fast and reliable telecommunication services are essential during this pandemic and help our clients in their new daily routines such as remote schooling and working from home. We are pleased with the EBRD’s participation in our second bond issuance and with the continuous support for 5G network development.”

As a significant investor, the EBRD played an important role in the successful placement of Play’s bond, which had a maturity of seven years, the longest tenor among issuances placed in the corporate sector since the beginning of the lockdown in Poland in March 2020.

Supporting the development of the local capital market, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, is one of the EBRD’s priorities in Poland. There, it engages both as a major investor and as a partner in reform dialogue, such as in the drafting of the country’s capital market strategy, which was adopted in 2019. To date, the EBRD has invested €10.7 billion in Poland through 455 projects.

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