Calling Plan: American Tower to Buy Global Tower Partners for $4.8B

American Tower Corp. has agreed to acquire MIP Tower Holdings, a private REIT and the parent company of Global Tower Partners and related companies, for $4.8 billion.
James Taiclet

James Taiclet, of American Tower

American Tower Corp., of Boston, has agreed to acquire MIP Tower Holdings L.L.C., a private REIT and the parent company of Global Tower Partners, Boca Raton, Fla., and related companies, for about $4.8 billion, the buyer, which is also a REIT, announced Friday.

GTP is majority owned by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, an affiliate of the Macquarie Group, Sydney, together with minority partners that include Dutch pension fund manager PGGM.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

GTP is the largest privately owned cell tower operator in the United States and the fourth-largest independent operator in the United States. It owns and operates about 5,400 domestic towers and 800 domestic property interests under third-party communications sites and has management rights to more than 9,000 domestic sites, primarily rooftop assets. In addition, GTP owns 500 communications sites in Costa Rica.

The addition of the GTP assets will grow ATC’s tower count by about 25 percent, American Tower Chairman, President & CEO Jim Taiclet said during a conference call Friday morning.

The $4.8 billion price will be paid as about $3.3 billion in cash plus the assumption of about $1.5 billion of existing indebtedness. The cash will consist of American Tower’s cash on hand and borrowing capacity under its existing revolving credit facilities, plus additional anticipated sources of debt financing.


In the conference call, Taiclet said that the $1.5 billion in secured debt comprises four tranches with an average interest rate of 4.7 percent.

The GTP tower portfolio’s tenants include AT&T (25 percent of its towers), Sprint (17 percent), T-Mobile (nearly 17 percent) and Verizon (12 percent), a mix that Taiclet said is similar to ATC’s own.

4G handset penetration is still under 10 percent of the U.S. mobile market, Taiclet added, leading ATC to believe that we are still in the early stages of the 4G deployment cycle.

With the addition of GTP’s 5,400 towers, he said in the conference call, “our future collocation opportunity in the U.S. becomes even more compelling.”

Another upside in the GTP portfolio, Taiclet said, lies in the towers’ generally younger age and in that they average two tenants per tower, versus about 2.6 for ATC’s generally older towers.

A leading independent owner, operator and developer of wireless and broadcast communications real estate, American Tower owns and operates more than 56,000 communications sites in the United States, India, Germany, South America, Africa and Europe.

American Tower was advised by Goldman, Sachs & Co. and EA Markets Securities L.L.C. as financial advisors, and Clifford Chance US L.L.P. and Sullivan & Worcester L.L.P. as legal advisors. GTP was advised by Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. as exclusive financial advisor.