While we had heard about this previously, the news was not public until yesterday. Reuters is reporting that MacQuarie has put Global Tower Partners up for sale. Global Tower Partners owns 6,400 towers and manages or leases another 9,600 properties across the US. Some of these properties are not active cell site locations, they are just large property owners who signed up with Global Tower Partners to market their sites. Others are active cell sites, but ones where Global Tower Partners only owns the rights to the ground lease, not the towers.
The Global Tower Partners website shows how they acquired their towers:
- October, 2003: Acquired 187 towers from American Towers
- April, 2004: Acquired 249 towers from Titan Towers
- June, 2005: Acquired 564 towers from Dobson Communications
- July, 2005: Acquired 212 towers from Mesa Communications
- January 2006: Acquired 211 towers from TCP Communications
- September, 2007: Acquired 549 decommissioned towers from AT&T
- December, 2008: Acquired 235 additional decommissioned towers from AT&T
- 2009-2010: Acquired 498 towers and 2,581 rooftops or ground leases through various transactions
- May, 2011: Acquired 130 towers from Cricket (have to question how that acquisition looks now)
- August, 2011: Acquired 37 towers from NV Energy
Our belief is that American Tower Corporation, Crown Castle, or SBA Communications will win the bid. For landowners with Global Tower Partners towers on their property, this is a good thing. On a comparative basis, any of those companies typically pays more to acquire their own ground leases than Global Tower Partners has for ground leases. Furthermore, each of those companies has been historically more aggressive in tying up long term lease rights through lease extensions than Global Tower Partners. Accordingly, if you have a Global Tower Partners ground lease and they are pushing you to buy the lease or extend it, it is our recommendation that you wait to see what happens. If Global Tower Partners is successful at selling their towers to one of the big 3, chances are that the offers you have seen will improve. If you need help with evaluating a Global Tower Partners purchase or extension offer, please contact us.
If and when there is a sale, landowners will undoubtedly see estoppel letters from the buying company asking the landowner to agree that the assignment of their leases to the purchasing company is acceptable. We strongly recommend that you do not sign this estoppel letter without showing it to your attorney or a specialized attorney like www.celltowerattorney.com.