Privately held Vertical Bridge Holdings on Friday closed a transaction to acquire the rights to more than 200 wireless communications towers from Nsight Tower Holdings, which is owned by Nsight, the parent of wireless carrier Cellcom as well as Nsight Telservices. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Vertical Bridge will have the exclusive rights to lease and operate the portfolio of Nsight towers for a weighted average term of around 31 years. Vertical Bridge will also have fixed price purchase options to acquire the towers based on their anticipated fair market values at the end of the lease terms, the companies said.
The towers seem to be located in Wisconsin, which is where Cellcom is based. It's unclear how large the towers are, what kind of network gear and antennas they currently have on them and how many tenants can occupy the towers. A Vertical Bridge spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
"Vertical Bridge is very pleased to have earned the opportunity to become a long-term partner with Nsight," Vertical Bridge CEO Alex Gellman said in a statement. "These unique, high quality, fiber-ready towers are built in prime locations, and Nsight will be the anchor tenant on all of the sites. By acquiring access to this portfolio of concentrated assets, Vertical Bridge will enhance its ability to provide improved regional coverage in Northern Wisconsin while capturing incremental leasing opportunities."
"We view this as an opportune time to transition management and operation of Nsight's owned tower portfolio to a trusted partner," said Nsight CEO Patrick Riordan. "We have known and worked extensively with members of Vertical Bridge's executive team and are comfortable with them as our long-term landlord. Nsight will use the proceeds from this transaction to continue to build out our LTE network and acquire additional spectrum in key markets."
Vertical Bridge claims to be the largest private owner and manager of wireless communication infrastructure, and says it now has almost 3,000 owned towers in its portfolio, and more than 42,000 total sites. Vertical Bridge was founded in 2014 by Digital Bridge Holdings, as well as key executives from Global Tower Partners. GTP sold its U.S. tower assets to American Tower in September 2013 for $4.8 billion.
This isn't the first time Vertical Bridge has gone after tower assets in the Midwest. U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) struck a deal with Vertical Bridge in December 2014 to sell 595 towers in markets it had divested from for around $159 million. In a deal that closed in May 2013, U.S. Cellular offloaded its Chicago, St. Louis, central Illinois and three other Midwest markets to Sprint (NYSE:S). The deal included transfers of PCS spectrum and customers but not towers.
- see this release
The rise of the second-tier tower players
U.S. Cellular agrees to sell non-core towers for $159M'
Verizon and T-Mobile remain steady wireless network spenders in Q3, with less clarity on AT&T and Sprint
SBA's guidance indicates AT&T may pick up network spending in 2016, but Sprint's plans are cloudy, analysts say
Crown Castle will refrain from talking about carriers' deployments, but sees 'long runway' for U.S. wireless biz