GTP's Ganzi on tower sale: 'It was a very sought-after asset'

HOLLYWOOD BEACH, Fla.--Global Tower Partners CEO Marc Ganzi said the privately held company decided to sell its U.S. tower assets to American Tower in a deal valued at $4.8 billion because GTP could no longer compete with its publicly traded competitors to go after large tower asset sales, among other competitive concerns.

GTP owned and operated approximately 5,400 domestic towers, 800 domestic property interests under third-party communications sites, and had management rights to over 9,000 domestic sites, which are primarily rooftop assets. Ganzi said the deal with American Tower closed last week. GTP also owns 500 communications sites in Costa Rica. American Tower did not acquire GTP's assets in Mexico as part of the deal.

In an interview with FierceWireless here at the PCIA Wireless Infrastructure Conference, Ganzi said that GTP's owner, Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, a unit of the Australian investment bank Macquarie Group, felt that the time had come to realize the value of its investment. He said it was becoming difficult to remain competitive "vis–à–vis cost of capital."

Ganzi declined to say which other companies were involved in the sales process, but SBA Communications CEO Jeffrey Stoops indicated in a separate interview with FierceWireless that SBA was involved.

"We're involved in all processes," he said. "I think it was a good deal for American [Tower] and GTP. But that was not a price and [at] terms that would have been a good deal for SBA." Stoops said the GTP deal "would have required us to take on more debt or issue more equity than we thought would have been in the best interest of our shareholders."

"It was a very sought-after asset," Ganzi said of GTP. "I think people really understood the quality of what we had carefully constructed over 10 years."

Ganzi said he has 90 days to pull the Mexican assets out of GTP and run them as a standalone company. Looking ahead, he said he is focused on a company he has co-founded called Digital Bridge, which he said will "make discreet investments in wireless infrastructure." That will include a broad spectrum of market niches, including data centers, cloud infrastructure, backhaul, fiber, distributed antenna systems and towers.

Ganzi said the company will be focused on deals around the world but "we will be disciplined in our sector focus and our approach to how we analyze assets." He said the company is looking to invest in businesses that can generate "strong, reoccurring contracted cash flows," hopefully with carriers as customers.

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