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ADB OKs P2.4 billion loan for iSON Tower’s project

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
ADB OKs P2.4 billion loan for iSON Tower�s project
Documents from the ADB showed the multilateral lender approved $42.43 million worth of loan for iSON’s project.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Tower company iSON Tower Ltd. Inc. has secured a $42.43 million (P2.4 billion) loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the building and operations of telco towers in the country.

Documents from the ADB showed the multilateral lender approved $42.43 million worth of loan for iSON’s project.

The project involves up to P4.8 billion senior secured project finance loan, with P2.4 billion through ADB’s ordinary capital resources, and P2.4 billion through parallel loan to support the development, construction, and operations of up to 800 telco towers in the Philippines.

Telco players Smart Communications Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc. are providing iSON with search rings where towers need to be constructed in the country, while the firm identifies locations within the search areas to lease land and build towers.

Once the towers are built, these are used by mobile network operations (MNO), while iSON handles the management of security and maintenance of the towers through 15-year lease agreements.

“Towers that are completed and earning revenues from MNOs will be eligible for financing subject to predefined environmental, social, development, and financial criteria,” the ADB said.

The ADB also said the construction and operation of the towers in areas claimed, used or owned by indigenous people will not involve physical displacement, commercial use of cultural resources and not have adverse impact on livelihood and cultural and spiritual uses of the land.

Instead, indigenous people groups hosting the towers will earn through land rental and site caretaking fee.

The ADB said the project supports the multilateral lender’s operational priorities such as addressing poverty and reducing inequalities, accelerating progress in gender equality, and promoting livable cities.

It is also linked to the objectives of the ADB’s country partnership strategy (CPS) for the Philippines for 2018 to 2023.

ADB’s CPS for the Philippines focuses on infrastructure investment and economic growth to address income inequalities and improve connectivity.

“Access to the digital economy is one of driving forces for inclusive growth in remote underserved regions as it promotes the mobility of the population from less-productive sectors to better economic opportunities and improves productivity,” the ADB said.

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