Andean Telecom Partners (ATP), an owner and operator of macro cell towers, fiber networks, and distributed antenna systems (DAS) in Peru, Chile, and Colombia, announced its acquisition of BTS Towers (BTS Torres B.V.), an independent tower company with ~400 sites in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Paraguay. DigitalBridge-backed ATP purchased BTS Towers from a group of investors which includes the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, as well as private equity firms Cartesian Capital Group, and Amzak Capital (Kazma family).
Notably, ATP appears to have closed the transaction in early 2022, as BTS Towers’ senior management team (see below) have already moved on to new companies. Finally, with the acquisition of BTS Towers, ATP marks its entry into two new markets, namely Ecuador and Paraguay.
BTS Towers – Sold to Andean Telecom Partners (ATP)
Founded in 2015, BTS Towers is a Florida-headquartered developer and operator of telecommunications infrastructure. Specifically, BTS Towers constructs and operates tower sites for mobile network and fixed wireless operators in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Paraguay.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested in BTS Towers in October 2015, which, at the time, consisted of the following business plan:
Cartesian Capital led the formation of BTS Towers, whose business plan comprised total project costs requiring $125m of equity capital. Of this total, the IFC’s investment was $18.75m of equity, in return for a minority stake of ~15% in BTS Towers. Additionally, Amzak Capital took a minority equity position in BTS Towers.
Proceeds from Cartesian, Amzak, and the IFC provided BTS Towers with capital to construct and operate cell sites. At the time, the company expected to build about 550 telecommunications towers per year in Latin America.
BTS Towers’ funding was provided to the company with the investment thesis of:
- Wireless Penetration: construction of additional tower sites for existing mobile operators to expand the reach of their services both in terms of geography and capacity. Particularly, service expansion to remote and economically less developed areas where ARPU and usage is lower
- Competition: expansion of BTS Towers’ infrastructure allows smaller and newer wireless operators to benefit from reduced barriers to entry. Specifically, these companies can access leased towers and/or build their own sites through BTS Towers’ capabilities
- Broader ICT Technologies: BTS Towers’ network not only supports mobile cellular networks, but also wireless broadband and backhaul networks. In turn, the company’s infrastructure improves the penetration of these broadband and backhaul technologies
BTS Towers was led by Tatum Martin as CEO, David Schoenberger as CFO, and Mariano Gomez as EVP, Business Development. Both Tatum Martin and Mariano Gomez spent over 6 years together at NMS Towers, which was ultimately sold to Uniti Group (NASDAQ: UNIT).
Additionally, Tatum Martin was an owner and board member of Bluebird Network, which was also acquired by Uniti Group through an OpCo-PropCo transaction with Macquarie Infrastructure Partners (MIP).
Andean Telecom Partners (ATP) – Overview
Andean Telecom Partners (ATP) operates 3.0k active sites and 39.0k total sites, including those with management rights, across Chile, Colombia, and Peru. Notably, ATP is a portfolio company of DigitalBridge with funding shared between the vehicles Digital Colony Partners I and legacy Digital Bridge Holdings (DBH).