While Michael Mackey, President of Everest Infrastructure Partners, has plenty to look forward to in 2020, the year he just put behind him was one of solid achievement and growth for his Pittsburgh-based company. Over the past twelve months, Everest added 200 towers and ground sites to its portfolio of owned properties and closed nearly 100 tenant lease transactions, adding significant incremental value for the company.
The marquee transaction for Everest in 2019 was the acquisition of nearly 100 communications facilities purchased from Frontier Communications. These assets are heavily concentrated in Connecticut, New York and California, all of which are notoriously difficult regions to permit and build towers. Everest also acquired or developed a dozen more sites in New England and numerous others across the U.S. Today, Everest owns 400 communications facilities across 45 states. “Of course, none of this growth would have been possible without Everest’s team of skilled communications infrastructure professionals,” said Mackey.
Everest was formed in 2015 by Mackey, CEO Matt Newton, and EVP and General Counsel John Lemmon after working together for nearly a decade at TriStar Investors, another leading communications infrastructure firm. TriStar was acquired in 2014, and the team took a short break to consider their next venture. “We had a unique and well-defined strategy utilizing an extensive amount of proprietary data,” said Mackey. “With our specialized knowledge, we knew we could recreate the platform and make it even bigger. This was further supported by the thesis that consumer data-demand and the 5G infrastructure cycle was going to create immense industry opportunity for the next decade.”
In less than a year, the Everest team closed their first tower deal: 15 assets purchased from the City of Akron, Ohio. To support their acquisitions-centric growth strategy, Everest raised $100 million in equity capital from Barings LLC, a firm the Everest team had partnered with successfully for many years at TriStar.
“After the Akron transaction, we hit the ground running in 2018,” Mackey said. “We are most interested in the large universe of independently owned communications infrastructure properties throughout the U.S., with a particular affinity for tower assets that we think are under-marketed to the large mobile operators and where we can deliver substantially improved service quality.” Mackey says the company’s success in driving improved carrier services is directly related to Everest’s proprietary in-house acquisition platform that identifies under-managed assets with the potential for above market growth. Along with having “an experienced, nimble team” to work with potential sellers, Mackey said “being creative and flexible has certainly fueled our growth.”
The acquisition of Boston-based Varsity Wireless in 2018 added important tower development and operations depth to Everest’s senior leadership team. Chris Davis, Varsity’s founder and CEO, joined Everest as President of US Towers. Industry veterans Michael Culbert, Jim Donahue, and Mark Uminski joined the team to address senior asset management functions and support the company’s rapid growth. “Our team doubled in size over the past year to support our growing tower development business, national footprint, and rapidly growing portfolio,” said Davis. “We added to most parts of the organization, with new hires in project management, legal and finance. We are currently looking to add a few resources in our project management and accounting staff.”
Everest continues to be active in the capital markets. The company closed a large, multi-lender debt facility led by CIT in conjunction with the Frontier transaction. It also announced the closing of new equity commitments in August 2019, bringing their total capital base to more than $350 million at year-end.
“We’re working on a number of new and very large opportunities at the moment,” added Mackey. “While 2019 was a busy and transformative year for Everest, we have a few active opportunities that could make 2020 even bigger. Looking back, I think what we are most proud of is the team we have brought together, including our capital partners. This will enable us to sustain our growth for many years to come.” For more information about Everest, visit their website at www.everestinfrastructure.com.