Lightower Fiber Networks’ private equity owners are reportedly mulling a sale of the company that they hope will fetch $7 billion, including debt.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Reuters reported that CenturyLink, Zayo and Crown Castle are among potential suitors for the company. Earlier rumors emerged that Level 3, which is in the process of being bought by CenturyLink, and Zayo had also been interested in buying Lightower. As Reuters noted, Lightower counts Berkshire Partners, along with Pamlico Capital and ABRY Partners, as private equity owners.
The sources added that Lightower could also pursue an initial public offering (IPO) if the acquisition offers it receives do not meet its valuation expectations.
Evercore Partners and Citigroup are helping to prepare the auction. The sources told Reuters that exploration of a sale was still in the early stages.
Lightower, Evercore, CenturyLink, Zayo and Crown Castle did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Citi also would not comment on any potential sale.
Consolidation of the fiber infrastructure space has been rampant in recent years as service providers try to respond to the desire from large businesses and content providers for high bandwidth solutions.
In 2013, Berkshire Partners acquired Lightower Fiber Networks and the former Sidera Networks for $2 billion, creating a new service provider with a large on-net and metro fiber footprint. Pamlico Capital and ABRY Partners, which were separately major investors in Lightower and Sidera, stayed on as large stakeholders in the combined company.
Lightower itself has been an aggressive buyer of fiber networks. In 2015, Lightower purchased Fibertech Networks in a $1.9 billion all-cash deal to create a powerhouse fiber provider serving the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions of the United States.
Earlier, Lightower purchased a number regional fiber providers including Lexent Metro Connect, Veroxity and Open Access.