Blackstone Sells Global Towers to Macquarie
OPERATOR, GLOBAL TOWER PARTNERS, FROM BLACKSTONE
NEW YORK, July 1, 2007 – A consortium led by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners (MIP) and Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group (MCG) today announced that it will acquire from the Blackstone Group 100% of leading U.S. wireless tower operator, Global Tower Partners (“GTP”) for an enterprise value of US$1,425 million.
GTP is a leading owner and operator of towers and sites for wireless communications services in the United States. It has a portfolio of approximately 2,500 towers and over 4,600 rooftop sites in urban, suburban and key corridor locations across 48 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. The significant majority of GTP’s revenue base is derived from long-term contracts with major wireless operators, including AT&T, Sprint-Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
Christopher Leslie, CEO of MIP, said: “Wireless communications towers demonstrate the fundamental features important in an infrastructure asset. Their use is an essential part of the communities they serve, they enjoy a privileged market position and generate stable, predictable and growing revenues over the long term.
“GTP is a high quality and growing business that displays what we seek in an infrastructure investment, while at the same time providing a proven source of consistent growth in cashflow,” said Mr Leslie.
“The strong existing GTP management team has driven the growth of the business with a disciplined approach to acquisitions and the construction of new towers in strategic locations. We are looking forward to working with this capable and experienced team, to continue to facilitate high-quality wireless communications services to an increasing group of users across the U.S.,” Mr Leslie said.
The CEO of MCG, Mr Scott Davies, said: “Through this acquisition we have gained a timely position in a familiar industry in the attractive U.S. market. GTP complements and leverages our existing wireless industry knowledge and expands and diversifies MCG’s existing North American asset base, alongside Arqiva’s satellite dish facilities in Los Angeles, Washington and New York.”
“We are very excited about the prospects of our new partnership with Macquarie”, said Marc C. Ganzi, Chief Executive Officer of Global Tower Partners, “as their demonstrated track record of successful wireless infrastructure investments around the globe will assist GTP in the execution of our long term business plan.”
“We also want to thank the Blackstone Group for their support and stewardship over the last two years in helping the Company successfully evolve from a middle market tower company to a recognized leader within our sector,” said Mr. Ganzi.
Ben Jenkins, Senior Managing Director with The Blackstone Group, said: “It has been a privilege to be partnered with Marc Ganzi and the GTP management team as they built a world class tower company, more than quintupling revenues, increasing earnings sixfold and adding new employees and offices during our investment period. This transaction demonstrates the significant value that has been created.”
- Retention of highly capable GTP management team, averaging 20+ years of industry experience and including founding CEO Marc C. Ganzi – complementing the depth of industry experience within the Macquarie consortium;
- Portfolio and revenue growth driven by strong existing lease-up demand combined with management’s successful program of site acquisitions and new construction since 2002;
- Strong free cash generation and low maintenance capex requirements (1.6% of revenues in 2007 and an average tower age of 8 years);
- High customer retention – GTP historically seen at over 98%;
- Weighted average remaining ground lease term of 24 years creates privileged market position;
- Dependable, recurring revenue from large, stable telephony clients including AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless;
- Wireless penetration at 77% of US market is low relative to world averages and expected to grow as text messaging, next generation networks, improved broadband, WiFi and other technology is more widely deployed.
The acquisition will be funded by a combination of equity as well as existing and newly issued debt.
Macquarie Securities (USA) Inc. acted as financial advisor and Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Spradley & Riesmeyer acted as legal counsel to the Macquarie consortium in connection with the transaction. Blackstone Advisory Services and Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisors and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett acted as legal counsel to Blackstone in connection with the transaction.
Macquarie Infrastructure Partners
Headquartered in New York and established in May 2006, MIP is a diversified unlisted fund focusing on infrastructure and infrastructure-like investments in North America. The majority of MIP investors are North American institutions such as public pension funds, corporate pension funds, insurance companies, endowments & foundations and Taft- Hartley funds. MIP’s currently has eight investments which include a majority stake in Aquarion Company, a regulated New England water utility, a minority stake in Duquesne Light, a regulated electric utility in Pittsburgh, two Canadian port terminals and interests in four toll roads in the United States.
Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group
Headquartered in Sydney, Australia and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in August 2002, MCG owns and operates the most extensive network of broadcast infrastructure in Australia and the United Kingdom. MCG’s investments include Broadcast
Australia, Australia’s leading independent broadcast transmission provider; Airwave, the UK’s primary provider of secure communications to Britain’s emergency services; and Arqiva, a global broadcast, media and mobile communications business, which has recently acquired National Grid Wireless in the UK.
The Macquarie Group
The Macquarie Group is a diversified international provider of specialist investment, advisory, trading and financial services in select markets around the world with over US$160 billion of total assets under management (as of March 31, 2007). The Macquarie Group comprises Macquarie Bank, the leading Australian investment bank, and its worldwide affiliated entities.
MIP and MCG are managed by members of the Macquarie Group, a leading global investor and manager of infrastructure businesses. Members of the Macquarie Group manage more than US$44 billion in equity invested in infrastructure and essential service assets around the world through a range of listed and unlisted vehicles. Infrastructure investments managed by Macquarie include investments in the telecommunications, energy, water and transportation sectors around the world. Macquarie aims to manage investments in infrastructure assets profitably and responsibly.
About Global Tower Partners
Global Tower Partners (www.gtpsites.com), based in Boca Raton, Florida, is one of the leading providers of outsourced antennae site facilities to the wireless communications industry in the United States. GTP’s business includes the ownership, development, leasing and management of antennae sites on towers and commercial real estate rooftops. GTP owns or master leases more than 7,200 sites, including 2,500 owned towers throughout the United States. GTP’s customers are leading wireless communications providers including Sprint-Nextel, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, US Cellular, Metro PCS, Cricket Communications & ALLTEL Communications.
About The Blackstone Group
The Blackstone Group is a leading global alternative asset manager and provider of financial advisory services. Its alternative asset management businesses include the management of corporate private equity funds, real estate opportunity funds, funds of hedge funds, mezzanine funds, senior debt funds, proprietary hedge funds and closedend mutual funds. The Blackstone Group also provides various financial advisory services, including mergers and acquisitions advisory, restructuring and reorganization advisory and fund placement services. Additional information can be found on the company’s website at www.blackstone.com.