Uniti Group Eyeing Southern Light for $700M

The deal falls in line with the telecommunication services provider’s strategy of acquiring high-quality, mission-critical communications infrastructure which will enhance growth prospects within the company.

Kenny GundermanUniti Group Inc. (Communications Sales & Leasing Inc. before its February 2017 name change) is on the heels of striking a deal to purchase family owned telecommunications services provider Southern Light LLC in a $700 million cash and equity transaction.

“We believe Southern Light fits squarely within our strategy of acquiring high-quality, mission-critical communications infrastructure. We believe this acquisition not only drives meaningful diversification for Uniti Group, it greatly enhances our growth prospects within Uniti Fiber,” Kenny Gunderman, president & CEO of Uniti Group Inc., said during the Little Rock, Ark.-based company’s April 11 conference call regarding the deal.

Headquartered in Mobile, Ala., Southern Light made its debut in 1998, and has since emerged into a leading designer, builder and operator of fiber optic networks in the Southeast, providing large bandwidth solutions to telecommunications carriers, enterprise customers and governmental agencies, including the military, which will mark new territory for Uniti Fiber. Southern Light will enhance Uniti’s business with a coveted fiber network consisting of 540,000 fiber strand miles, 5,700 fiber route miles, and over 4,500 on-net locations in the Gulf Coast region. Combining Southern Light’s reach with Hunt’s footprint will increase Uniti Fiber’s operational network by 100 percent to more than 1 million fiber strand miles, and leave Uniti with strand miles totaling in excess of 4.8 million.

“This is an opportunity that we’ve been pursuing for some time,” Gunderman added. “And it’s one that is an obvious strategic fit when you look at the map; it’s an obvious strategic fit when you think about the capabilities that the business brings to the table; it’s an obvious fit when you think about the management team and the capabilities that they bring to the table.”

Uniti plans to fund the acquisition through the issuance of approximately 2.5 million operating partnership units and a whopping $635 million in cash, the majority of which will be obtained through proceeds from financing already promised by Citigroup Global Markets Inc., JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and RBC Capital Markets LLC.

If all goes as planned the Uniti-Southern Light union will close in during the third quarter of 2017.