Wireless infrastructure company American Tower Corp. (AMT) continues to look outside of the U.S. for acquisition targets.
The Boston company said Monday, Nov. 24, that it will pay Indian telecom Bharti Airtel Ltd. $1.05 billion for wireless towers in Nigeria. The news followed American Tower's announcement late Friday that it would pay a unit of Telecom Italia SA 3.0 billion Brazilian Reais ($1.2 billion) for assets in Brazil.
American Tower, which became a REIT in 2012, has looked to foreign acquisitions to grow its cash flow as the U.S. market matures. The company has made a number of acquisitions in Brazil. As the Nigerian purchase reflects, American Tower also wants to diversify its overseas holdings.
American Tower CEO Jim Taiclet said in a statement Monday that Nigeria combines "the largest population and economy in Africa" with "relatively underdeveloped wireless infrastructure."
American Tower will add 4,800 towers in the country. Bharti Airtel, which has operations in 20 countries in Asia and Africa, will be an anchor tenant in Nigeria.
"These transactions come as little surprise as [American Tower] has openly commented on opportunistic inorganic portfolio growth and international opportunities," Wells Fargo Securities LLC analyst Jennifer Fritzsche wrote in a Monday note. "Specifically, the company remains bullish on its outlook for the Brazilian market and has seen early success in previous acquisitions."
In Brazil, American tower will add two asset portfolios with close to 6,500 towers from TIM Participacaoes SA, a publicly traded unit of Telecom Italia. The towers generate about 435 million Brazilian Reais ($171 million) in sales.
UBS analyst Batya Levi valued the deal at $185,000 per tower. The price reflects a discount to the $211,000 per tower that the analyst attributed to American Tower's 2.18 billion Brazilian reais purchase of BR Towers SA earlier this year. The valuation is roughly in line with the company's purchase of 2,790 towers in Brazil last year from NII Holdings Inc. (NIHD) for $413 million.
Given market trends in the U.S., international deals may remain important to American Tower. "As the U.S. market matures, [American Tower]'s international portfolio should help buoy overall growth rates as these markets are 5-10 years behind the U.S. in their network build outs," Levi wrote.
American Tower expects to close both deals in the first half of 2015.
Advising American Tower in the deal with Airtel were Daniel Lee of Intrepid Advisory Partners and Clifford Chance US LLP lawyers John Graham, Matthew Warner, Sarah El-Ghazaly, Teresa Teng, Margot Dickson, Marissa Marco, and Joshua Wohl.