It’s the third time since 2004, when TowerCo was launched, that Richard Byrne and his team of more than two dozen in Cary, NC have built up an impressive collection of tower assets and found a buyer for them. He told Inside Towers “I am extremely fortunate to have wonderful investors (Tailwind Capital Partners and Soros Fund Management) and great people working with me.” With a chuckle, Byrne added, “ I am very, very lucky.”
Grain Infrastructure II, L.P, of Sarasota, FL paid $244 million for the 253 tower spread “all over the U.S.,” Byrne said. The deal settled on May 11. Byrne said TowerCo decided to part with its third portfolio of towers last summer and began marketing it in the fall. “We are pleased with the outcome of this transaction and look forward to the continued growth of TowerCo IV which is off to a very good start.”
The TowerCo IV portfolio is “about 200 towers” strong and growing, Byrne told Inside Towers. The first portfolio of about 443 towers was sold to SBA Communications. However, the entire group of TowerCo assets included “about 2 build-to-suit contracts” for NexTel that SBA was not interested in dealing with and they became the foundation of TowerCo II. NexTel soon became Sprint and the contracts bonded TowerCo with the carrier. In 2008, TowerCo paid Sprint $679 million for 3,000 towers. After four years, the TowerCo II portfolio of more than 3,200 towers was sold to SBA, and the Cary operation started again from “scratch” to build a collection of assets that became the just sold TowerCo III, Byrne said. Building portfolios and then selling them was “not necessarily our original plan but it seems that’s the way it has happened,” Byrne said Friday.
Byrne said that when the company sells a portfolio, it is only structures and assets and never employees. The company employs about 28 staffers, most or all of whom have an equity position in the operations and a sale “always makes everyone pretty happy.”
Byrne thanked equity investors Tailwind Capital Partners and Soros Fund Management “who have agreed to back us for a fourth time. Without them and the dedicated team of people at TowerCo, our success over the past 12 years would not have been possible.”
Wells Fargo Securities, LLC served as primary advisor for the sale with the assistance of SteelTree Partners, while Bruce Gutenplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP was counsel to TowerCo on the transaction.