The ground lease aggregation model is a fairly simple one—aggregators try to acquire land on which cell towers are constructed by offering a payment to the property’s landlord, thereby collecting revenue on the land from tower companies. Several companies have proven the model successful in the United States and are currently looking to expand into parts of Central and Latin America, reports TowerXchange from a recent seminar “Round Table” led by Michael Buhler of Terra Towers.
AP Wireless, TowerPoint Capital and Unison Site Management are among the top aggregators looking for opportunities to expand in these regions. AP Wireless and TowerPoint have been most active in Brazil—the hottest spot in these regions for aggregation companies. Land aggregators actively reach out to landlords by going door-to-door, running advertisements in local newspapers and encouraging them to reach out.
The land aggregation sector is becoming more prominent in Mexico and Colombia and beginning to develop a presence in Peru, reports TowerXchange. Real estate laws vary from country to country and can affect aggregators ability to acquire land.
The ground lease aggregation business in CALA is immature and varies from market to market. Land aggregators like Gryps and AP Wireless have been relatively active in Brazil. “One ground lease aggregator has been sending out teams to knock on doors, another has placed an ad in the paper enticing landowners to call,” observed one Round Table participant.
In Brazil there are problems with lease registration such that it’s not always possible to tell who the landlord is. On the other hand, some landlords have reportedly struggled to know who to call about telecom structures on their land, and frustrated landlords are more inclined to sell out to lease aggregators.
“Land aggregation isn’t as easy outside Brazil,” said one participant. “In Brazil you can’t buy real estate at a good price once a tower is on the site – valuations can increase six times!”