Investor News

News, deals and announcements from investor community about digital infrastructure

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners logo

GIC, Brookfield Team Up For India Cell Tower Mega Buy

Source: Investable Universe

GIC, the Singapore wealth fund with more than $100 billion in sovereign assets under management invested across 40 countries, announced on Tuesday that it has teamed up with Canadian global alternative assets giant Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP and other co-investors to acquire 100% ownership of the Indian telecom tower assets currently held by Reliance Jio, a subsidiary of Indian multinational conglomerate Reliance Industries.

Total equity commitment for the transaction is $3.4 billion, making it the largest-ever private equity deal in India, and making Brookfield the country’s largest private investor—a distinction previously held by Blackstone Group.

The portfolio includes around 130,000 recently constructed cell towers, all strategically located to provide cellular network coverage across India. Another 45,000 towers are planned for construction and are included in the deal portfolio. Jio will remain anchor tenant of the tower portfolio under a 30-year Master Services Agreement.

In making the acquisition public today, GIC Chief Investment Officer of Infrastructure Ang Eng Seng said, “GIC is pleased to invest alongside Brookfield Infrastructure and the other co-investors in this large, high-quality portfolio of telecom tower assets. The portfolio offers resilient income and long-term value given India’s attractive data demand growth outlook as 4G and smartphone penetration is still very low. While we remain cautious in this period of high uncertainty, we continue to seek good, long-term opportunities in India.”

CTI Towers logo

CTI Towers Sells 1,150 Tower Portfolio to Melody Investments

Source: Inside Towers

Melody Investment Advisors, an alternative asset manager focused on mission-critical communications infrastructure, yesterday announced the entry into a definitive agreement to acquire CTI Towers. CTI has been majority owned by Comcast Ventures, Comcast Corporation’s venture investment arm.

“It is very exciting to be working with Melody,” Tony Peduto, CTI’s CEO told Inside Towers. “I have known John Apostolides for 12 years and look forward to growing the company with him, Omar Jaffrey and their team. It was a great ten year run with Dave Zilberman and Comcast Ventures. Dave has been first-class since the day we met,” Peduto said. “Our employees are excited to continue operating and contributing to the vital industry of which we are a part.”

CTI Towers, based in Cary, NC, owns and manages approximately 1,150 towers in 47 states. The management team of CTI Towers will continue to operate and manage the company. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close later in 2020, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.  

“We are excited about the addition of CTI Towers to our rapidly growing portfolio of communications infrastructure assets and pleased about the expanded capabilities we are now able to bring to our carrier partners which will include CTI Towers’ assets and unique capabilities in the cable tower ecosystem,” said Omar Jaffrey, Managing Partner and Founder of Melody Investment Advisors. “Melody’s portfolio companies are well positioned with a growing number of services and offerings for their customers. The CTI Towers team is top notch and we are looking forward to working with them.”

“CTI Towers is our second significant acquisition in the past three months. We are excited about our growing platform and the unique solutions we are able to provide to carriers,” said Chester Dawes, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Melody Investment Advisors. “As we look ahead, Melody is in a strong position to both execute on further acquisitions, as well as to expand on our tower construction and innovative financing solutions capabilities.”

“CEO Tony Peduto and the CTI Towers team have demonstrated grit, ambition and resilience as we started on our partnership ten years ago incubating CTI Towers then scaling CTI Towers to where it is today,” said David Zilberman, Managing Director of Comcast Ventures. “I look forward to seeing the team’s continued success as they move forward into the next phase of growth with Melody.”

The acquisition of CTI Towers follows Melody Investment Advisors’ previously announced acquisition in May of Uniti Towers, the wireless tower business of real estate investment trust Uniti Group Inc. (NASDAQ: UNIT).

Cumulus Media logo

Cumulus to Sell Towers to Vertical Bridge

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Cumulus Media agreed to sell nearly all of its towers in a bid to increase its liquidity and help pay down debt. The broadcast company told the SEC the buyer is Vertical Bridge REIT, LLC and VB Nimbus, LLC, each an affiliate of Vertical Bridge Holdings, LLC, for the sale of “substantially all” of its tower sites “and certain other related assets.”  Cumulus pegged the value of the deal at approximately $213 million.

In the deal signed last Friday, and announced yesterday, Cumulus said the transaction may occur in one or more closings. At each closing, Cumulus would sign lease agreements for the continued use of the towers. The broadcaster would also sign lease agreements “for certain other assets being sold, including excess land and certain intangible rights,” it told the SEC.

Vertical Bridge is required to acquire at least 85 percent of the tower sites. The broadcaster is not required to consummate the transaction unless the buyer agrees to acquire at least 92.5 percent of the tower sites (based on value) at the first closing.

The initial term of each lease would be 10 years, followed by five option periods of five five years each. If Vertical Bridge acquires all of the tower sites that are subject to the transaction, the broadcaster will have annual lease payment obligations of approximately $13.5 million. That figure would be subject to customary escalators, which would be accounted for as a reduction of the financial lease liability and interest expense, a loss of annual tenant revenues of approximately $2.3 million and an approximate $2.3 million annual operating expense reduction of which approximately $1.5 million is non-cash intangible amortization. 

Cumulus will also record non-cash imputed rental income for certain tower sites where it will continue to use a portion of the tower along with other existing and future tenants. The first closing is anticipated in Q4 2020 following a 45-day diligence period in which the buyer and the seller may exclude certain sites from the transaction.

Cumulus on Monday reported that for the three months ended June 30, its revenue fell almost 48 percent from the same period in 2019, and reported a net loss for the 2020 quarter of $36 million. The company owns and operates 424 radio stations across 87 markets. Cumulus completed a bankruptcy reorganization in 2018. 

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s material impact on revenue, the company generated over $90 million of cash in the quarter through quick and decisive expense actions, strong working capital management and the completion of the sale of land in Bethesda, MD, stated Cumulus Media President/CEO Mary Berner. She’s referring to the former WMAL-AM tower site. The broadcaster closed on the sale of a 75-acre tract to home builder Toll Brothers in June that generated gross proceeds of $74.1 million, Inside Towers reported.

Images of Morris Clark and Otis Ellis

S&P 500 Execs Form Broadband Infrastructure Fund for Underserved Areas

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While a resolution for bridging the home broadband divide continues to sit stagnant in the chambers of Congress, two top black executives recently announced the launch of a new infrastructure impact fund. Aimed to address the need for infrastructure in underserved communities, the Epiphany Community Impact Fund will be financed primarily by institutional investors including pension funds, foundations, insurance companies, and potentially appropriate governmental funding, reported Black Enterprise.

Morris Clark, former treasurer of Marathon Oil and Otis Ellis, a former JPMorgan Chase executive will manage the fund. J.R. Chantengco, managing director of Black Pearl Investments, will serve as the fund’s capital adviser.

In an interview with Black EnterpriseEllis said, “The recent problems due to COVID-19 and the social unrest highlighting police brutality and racial discrimination has only augmented the deficiencies in urban and rural communities.”

According to the FCC, about a fourth of the nation’s rural population (about 14.5 million people) lack access to broadband services. Another 19 million people lack access to broadband service at threshold speeds. With coronavirus shuttering families at home for remote work and learning, those without service are being left behind. 

“As we approach 2021, there are still urban and rural communities that are effectively broadband deserts,” said Clark. “As a result of the lack of investment by both the governmental and private sectors, there is not sufficient infrastructure in place to provide these communities with consistent access to reliable, full-scale broadband.” 

The trio is focusing on the full spectrum of infrastructure shortcomings and is considering opportunities in broadband access and reliability, as well as transportation and education infrastructure. Ellis said, “With access to adequate capital, these communities will be able to work toward reducing and eliminating the digital divide which will translate to better educational, economic, and entrepreneurial outcomes.” 

Ellis, Clark, and Chantengco are also members of the Shreveport Economic Recovery Task Force. The 40-member organization is comprised of top business professionals focusing on infrastructure projects to help boost Louisiana’s sagging economy post-COVID-19. The Shreveport Times reported the group’s goal is to develop a multibillion-dollar infrastructure package that focuses on broadband build-out and shovel-ready projects such as the I-49 connector.


MVP Capital logo

Houlihan Lokey to Acquire MVP Capital

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Source: Houlihan Lokey

SAN FRANCISCO and NEW YORK—June 25, 2020—Houlihan Lokey, Inc. (NYSE:HLI), the global investment bank, has agreed to acquire MVP Capital (MVP), an independent advisory firm that provides a range of advisory services to clients in the technology, media, and telecom (TMT) sector. The transaction, signed June 23, adds substantially to the firm’s coverage of the telecommunications sector and expands Houlihan Lokey’s footprint in the U.S. The transaction is expected to be completed next quarter following regulatory approval.

Founded in 1987, MVP serves clients across the TMT sector, providing mergers and acquisitions advisory, capital formation, and other advisory services. Since its founding, MVP has advised on more than 300 M&A and private placement transactions in the TMT sector. With an emphasis on telecom, internet infrastructure, and broadcast industries, MVP’s sectors of focus include fiber, towers, small cells, distributed antenna systems (DAS), wireless, data centers, cloud and managed services, and radio and television broadcasting.

As part of this transaction, MVP’s investment banking team will become part of Houlihan Lokey’s global TMT Group. Jason Hill, MVP Managing Partner, will join as a co-head alongside Rob Louv and Roy Kabla, who currently lead the firm’s team. In addition, MVP CEO Greg Widroe will assume a senior role in the TMT Group, focusing in part on strategic initiatives. The acquisition will add 25 financial professionals to Houlihan Lokey’s TMT Group, including MVP’s seven managing directors, bringing the global TMT team to more than 60 financial professionals.

“The transformation in the telecom and internet infrastructure industries, driven by the advent of 5G, cloud computing, and video streaming, will create meaningful and complex opportunities for our clients. These opportunities will require both deep sector expertise and a broad range of solutions,” said Mr. Hill. “Houlihan Lokey’s global platform, deep financial sponsor relationships, and outstanding private capital markets capabilities represent an extremely compelling opportunity for us to better serve our clients. We’re excited to join Rob, Roy, and the rest of the global TMT team to uphold the standard of excellent and outstanding service that Houlihan Lokey represents.”

“Without question, MVP’s extensive sector knowledge and execution expertise has driven its success as an exceptional advisory firm. However, it is clear to us that this success is also maintained and reinforced by many of the cultural characteristics we strive to embody at Houlihan Lokey, foremost among them our steadfast dedication to our clients,” said Scott Adelson, Houlihan Lokey’s Co-President and Co-Head of Corporate Finance. “In all respects, they are a perfect fit with our corporate culture, and we are confident that the MVP team will contribute meaningfully to the growth of the TMT Group and to our clients’ success, as well.”

“MVP and Houlihan Lokey share core values, including the importance of long-term relationships and a commitment to teamwork. MVP and Houlihan are both dedicated to helping our clients achieve superior outcomes by providing thoughtful and innovative solutions,” said Mr. Widroe. “We look forward to joining our new partners at Houlihan Lokey and becoming a part of a global client-focused independent advisory firm.”

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods acted as financial advisor to MVP Capital and Houlihan Lokey advised itself on the transaction. Proskauer Rose LLP served as legal counsel to Houlihan Lokey and Mayer Brown LLP was legal counsel to MVP.

Hallway walled with servers

Playing defence: Investors looking to data centres

SOURCE: The Investor JLL


Author: Rohit Hemnani, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Alternatives Capital Markets, Asia Pacific

With the global economy under pressure, real estate investors are hunting for defensive strategies that are more likely to see them safely through the downturn.

Data centres – buildings responsible for channelling our increasingly online lives – have crept to the top of that list.

“We’ve seen enhanced real estate investment in the data centre space in recent years, and it’s being accelerated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” says Rohit Hemnani, head of Alternatives, Capital markets, JLL Asia Pacific.

Data centres have been one of the top-performing asset classes in REIT markets around the world since the onset of the pandemic. In the U.S., four of the top 10 best performing REITs throughout the crisis so far (to May 22nd) were data centre REITs.

Widespread lockdowns, social distancing, and home-based working have transitioned many everyday activities from the physical to the digital. This has boosted demand for digital infrastructure, including data centres.

CAPEX spending on hyperscale-enabled data centres totalled over US$120 billion in 2019, and the pandemic will not slow this momentum meaningfully, according to the Synergy Research Group.

The in-house data centres of many corporations are not geared to provide the level of digital support for widespread work from home arrangements, especially in their ability to ensure employees’ private and secure network access to corporate networks is maintained,” Hemnani says.

With growing uncertainty over what restrictions will remain, and for how long, the reliance on network support is unlikely to ease in the near-term.

Research house IBISWorld recently upped its 2020 revenue growth forecast for the data storage services industry from 6.1 percent to 12.7 percent, due to increased demand “as businesses shift operations onto the cloud and expand possible working-from-home arrangements to ensure maximum operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

But for the sector to meet this demand, more investment in the form of land, new development, and redevelopment of existing assets will be crucial.

In April, Alibaba Cloud announced plans to invest over US$28 billion in cloud infrastructure and the construction of data centres over the next three years to help digital transformation efforts in the post-COVID-19 economy.

“While a heavily infrastructure-based industry, with fibre networks and processors, a robust data centre sector cannot exist without access to land, real assets, and experience with building,” says Hemnani. “It might present as high tech on the surface, but to many investors, data centres is also a real estate play that will increasingly provide solid defence in a time of change and uncertainty.”

A booming market in Asia Pacific
While growth is being seen worldwide, Asia Pacific is set to be the fastest-growing region for data centres, according to Cisco’s Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology. The report predicts that the region will house 47 percent of global data servers by the end of 2020.

Data centre provider Equinix, a global leader in the sector, forecasts that cloud and IT services in Asia Pacific will grow at a compound annual rate of 50 percent through 2022, dwarfing other regions.

Pre-coronavirus, many of the region’s most prominent investors and real estate firms had deployed billions into data centres in response to the roll-out of 5G and cloud computing boom, with quicker downloads and greater efficiencies requiring a new set of technologies and spurring development of data centres. Across Asia Pacific, primary markets include Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo, and high growth markets include India, China, and Jakarta

Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, is an established player in data centres in Asia Pacific and Europe. Earlier this year, it announced the establishment of a joint venture worth more than US$1 billion in Japan with Equinix, which has a network of 210 data centres globally.

“As a long-term value investor, we are confident that the strong growth in data consumption and public cloud data storage will continue to drive secular demand for hyperscale data centres,” said Lee Kok Sun, Chief Investment Officer, GIC Real Estate, in a release at the time.

Last year, Australia-based property and infrastructure group Lendlease partnered with an unnamed institution to invest US$1 billion in data centres across the region.

In China, the first country impacted by COVID-19, policymakers recently announced a commitment to constructing new digital infrastructure networks, including data centres, 5G and artificial intelligence, to support the new and post-COVID-19 economy. The motivation rests in aligning data processing closer to the end-user to reduce latency and improve user experience, which will form the foundation of a national 5G network.

“Demand for modern data centres is as strong as we’ve ever seen,” says Hemnani. “For developers especially, there’s a realization that real estate is going to be part of 5G’s backbone.”

FirstLight logo

FirstLight to Acquire BestWeb

[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.22″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.25″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.25″ custom_padding=”|||” custom_padding__hover=”|||”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.4.1″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” hover_enabled=”0″]SOURCE: Deepens FirstLight’s fiber footprint in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties FirstLight, a leading provider of fiber-optic data, Internet, data center, cloud computing and unified communications services to enterprise and carrier customers throughout the Northeast, announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire BestWeb. This transaction enhances FirstLight’s capabilities in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties and deepens its existing fiber network throughout the lower Hudson Valley. “BestWeb is an ideal match for FirstLight.  The organizations have worked together for many years, and in fact, BestWeb currently leverages FirstLight’s fiber network to help serve its clients,” said Kurt Van Wagenen, President and CEO of FirstLight.  “The acquisition will deepen our fiber footprint in this region by adding approximately 170 route miles of fiber and builds upon our collective success serving K-12 schools under the federal e-rate program.” “This is a positive development for BestWeb, its employees and clients.  The companies have complementary services and are both focused on providing high quality support to clients.  Now as part of FirstLight, we have a broader service portfolio and enhanced capabilities to continue to support the needs of our clients,” said Mark and Andrew Dickey, the co-owners of BestWeb. This is the sixth transaction that privately held FirstLight has announced since being acquired by Antin Infrastructure Partners in 2018.  Antin provides the support and guidance necessary to support FirstLight’s impressive growth. Bank Street Group LLC served as exclusive financial advisor to BestWeb in connection with this transaction. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP served as legal counsel to FirstLight. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020, following the satisfaction of customary regulatory approvals. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.22″ custom_padding=”1px|||||”][/et_pb_section]
Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners logo

Alphabet Spinoff SIP Aims To ‘Future Proof’ Infrastructure With Tech & $400 Million Series A

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A new entity called Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP) has raised a $400 million Series A with the goal of “future proofing” infrastructure through technology.

This news caught our attention for more than one reason. First of all, the obvious. It’s not often you see such massive Series As. Secondly, this company was just formed last August and has already raised a massive amount of cash (Form D here). And it has raised it from some big names: Alphabet and Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.

So we did some digging. First off, Sidewalk Infrastructure is not a typical startup. It’s actually a 15-person holding company that is a spinoff of Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, according to Fortune, which broke the funding news. As mentioned above, the New York-based company says its mission is to “future proof” infrastructure through technology. Its goal is to build, own, operate and invest. And it’s focused on mobility, energy, water and waste, and digital infrastructure.

Google veterans Jonathan Winer and Brian Barlow are co-CEOs of SIP, which aims to “pioneer technology-enabled infrastructure to transform urban life.”

On its website, SIP notes that it takes a hybrid approach to opportunities it pursues. It owns, acquires and invests both in large-scale, technology-enabled infrastructure projects and in the companies that develop the underlying technology. It then convenes investors, policymakers, academics and technologists “to attack a challenge from all perspectives” before deploying capital on solutions.

An example of a company that it has backed so far, according to Crunchbase data, is AMP Robotics. The startup, which claims it creates robotic systems that sort recyclable material at a fraction of the cost of current technology, raised $16 million in a Series A last November.

On its website, SIP also notes:

“The population living in urban areas is expected to double by 2050. Cities — and the people who live in them — face daunting challenges. Climate change threatens to bring storms, flooding, and fires with increased frequency; greater density is causing congestion, air pollution, and a lack of affordable transportation; outdated waste and water systems are strained.

There is broad consensus — spanning sectors and political divides — that our country is in urgent need of trillions of dollars in new infrastructure spending.

The question is how to spend those trillions. We can’t keep investing in Band-Aids for infrastructure from a bygone era.”


Digital Colony logo

Digital Colony Is Seeking to Raise $6 Billion for a Second Fund

SOURCE: Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Digital Colony, an arm of Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital Inc., is seeking at least $6 billion for its second fund dedicated to communications-infrastructure bets, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The firm has initiated discussions with prospective investors including pensions and sovereign-wealth funds, said the people, who requested anonymity because the talks are private. It’s seeking to hold a first close on the fund by November, one of the people said.

Digital Colony, led by managing partners Marc Ganzi and Ben Jenkins, closed on a $4.05 billion debut fund last June. Digital Colony Partners I has made 10 investments and is now more than 73% deployed, Ganzi said on a Colony earnings call last week. It’s doing due diligence and evaluating opportunities on which it may spend its remaining capital, he said.

Digital Colony teamed up with EQT Partners to purchase fiber-network owner Zayo Group Holdings Inc., and has agreed to buy data-center assets from Brazil’s Grupo Folha. Earlier this month, it recapitalized Beanfield Metroconnect, a provider of telecom infrastructure in Canada. Digital Colony also reached a deal to inject new equity into Vantage Data Centers as part of that company’s purchase of Etix Everywhere earlier this year.

A spokesman for Colony Capital declined to comment on the second fund.

Ganzi is slated to take over from Barrack as chief executive officer of Colony Capital on July 1 amid a turnaround at the real estate investment trust to focus on digital investments.

Colony Capital shares have tumbled more than 60% this year, leaving it with a market value of roughly $850 million. The company suspended its second-quarter dividend, saying it was seeking clarity regarding a “new normal.”

“Covid-19 has only amplified the fundamental demand for digital infrastructure and the world’s reliance on the digital ecosystem,” Barrack said on the earnings call, describing the Digital Colony business as “resilient and vibrant.”

Uniti Logo

Melody Investment Buys Over 500 Towers for $220M From Uniti

May 13, 2020


Melody Investment Advisors, an asset manager focused on communications infrastructure, yesterday announced the acquisition of 90 percent of Uniti Towers, the wireless tower business of real estate investment trust Uniti Group Inc. (NASDAQ:UNIT). The purchase totals approximately $220 million in cash and includes over 500 towers based in the U.S. Melody Investment Advisors will fund the purchase from Melody Communications Infrastructure Fund II.

Through an investment in an affiliate of Melody, Uniti will retain a 10 percent investment interest in the tower business and will receive an incremental earnout from Melody for each additional pipeline tower completed in 2020. In addition, as part of the transaction, Melody and Uniti will enter into a strategic relationship to collaborate on integrated solutions for wireless carriers requiring towers, fiber and small cell infrastructure. The transaction is subject to various closing conditions and is expected to close by the end of second quarter 2020.  

With the addition of Uniti’s towers, Melody and its affiliates now own and market more than 4,000 towers, ground leases and structure and rooftop leases, including pipeline sites. Melody and its affiliates are a top five independent owner of national wireless infrastructure assets and claim to be one of the largest privately owned telecom landowners in the U.S.

“As the transition to 5G continues, communications infrastructure is one of the fastest growing, most stable and critical segments of the economy. We are excited about the addition of these towers to our expanding portfolio and the benefits they will bring both to our carrier partners and to our investors,” said Omar Jaffrey, Managing Partner and Founder of Melody Investment Advisors. “We look forward to working with Uniti as we continue to grow and invest in our wireless infrastructure platform while seeking further growth through acquisitions.”