Blackstone Infrastructure Partners (BIP), an infrastructure-focused series of funds, today announced that it has acquired a 35% stake in Phoenix Tower International (PTI), an independent tower company operating in the Americas and Europe, from Manulife Investment Management, which holds its stakes through John Hancock Life Insurance (JHUSA) and John Hancock Infrastructure Fund (JHIF).

Notably, Blackstone has been a shareholder in Phoenix Tower International through its Blackstone Tactical Opportunities (Tac Opps) funds since 2014. Indeed, in February 2020, Tac Opps recapitalized Phoenix Tower with $1.4bn of dedicated capital. Additionally, Phoenix Tower has received recent debt financing commitments of €775m ($940m) from CDPQ and AMP Capital, as well as $175m+ from IDB Invest.

Phoenix Tower International – Blackstone Infrastructure Finances Expansion

Phoenix Tower International owns and operates over 14.0k cell towers and markets over 80.0k other wireless infrastructure sites. Geographically, this digital infrastructure portfolio spans 18 countries throughout Europe, the United States, Mexico, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Portfolio

Below is further detail on the history and composition of Phoenix Tower International’s portfolio across the Americas and Europe:

Americas
  1. Bolivia: acquisition of NuevaTel, which had 600 sites in Bolivia, from Trilogy International for $100m
  2. Colombia: acquisition of 621 towers from Telefónica in Colombia for €87m, bringing its total portfolio in the country to ~1.9k towers
  3. Costa Rica: operates ~175 towers in Costa Rica and owns FastSite which installs and leases wireless sites
  4. Dominican Republic: acquisition of Teletorres del Caribe, which had 1,039 tower sites, from Altice Europe for $170m
  5. Ecuador: acquisition of 1,408 towers from Telefónica in Ecuador for €202m
  6. El Salvador: sale-and-leaseback of 202 towers from Digicel in El Salvador
  7. French West Indies: total of 437 towers in the French West Indies following its acquisition of 203 wireless towers from Outremer Telecom and a 215-site sale-and-leaseback with Digicel
  8. Jamaica: sale-and-leaseback of 451 towers from Digicel in Jamaica for $84m
  9. Mexico: acquisition of 310+ towers from Uniti Group, as part of the broader NMS portfolio, which traded for cash consideration of $101.6m
  10. Nicaragua: acquisition of 54 towers from Uniti Group, as part of the broader NMS portfolio (see above)
  11. Panama: acquisition of 60 telecommunications sites in Panama from American Tower for ~$15m
  12. Peru: acquisition of ~365 towers in Peru through multiple transactions
  13. United States: key markets of operation include California, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Notably, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and DISH Network are all customers of Phoenix Tower in the U.S. Additionally, Phoenix Tower acquired 197 tower sites in the United States, through Tower Ventures, from Brown Brothers Harriman
Europe
  1. Cyprus: sale-and-leaseback of ~450 wireless towers from Monaco Telecom in Cyprus
  2. France: agreement with Bouygues Telecom to construct 4,000 new wireless towers across rural France
  3. Ireland: sale-and-leaseback of 650+ wireless towers from eir (Iliad) in Ireland
  4. Italy: acquisition of an 80% stake in TowerTel, which had 2,400 tower and distributed antenna system (DAS) sites in Italy for ~€500m
  5. Malta: sale-and-leaseback of ~350 wireless towers from Monaco Telecom in Malta

Expansion

Blackstone Infrastructure Partners’ capital will enable Phoenix Tower International to accelerate growth through the expansion of its portfolio throughout the Americas and Europe.

Transaction Advisors – Blackstone Infrastructure Partners

Blackstone Infrastructure’s financial advisor was Rothschild & Co. Additionally, Blackstone Infrastructure’s legal advisor was Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Blackstone Infrastructure Partners – Overview

Blackstone Infrastructure Partners invests across the infrastructure sectors of energy, transportation, digital, and water & waste. Specifically, the firm notes that digital infrastructure is a “high conviction investment theme” for Blackstone. Overall, Blackstone Infrastructure Partners targets a mix of core+, core, and public-private partnership investments. Geographically, the strategy’s primary investment focus is in the United States.

Digital Infrastructure

Within digital infrastructure, Blackstone Infrastructure Partners invested alongside Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust (BREIT) in QTS Realty Trust, a data center operator, at an enterprise value of $10bn. Additionally, Blackstone Infrastructure Partners invested alongside Blackstone Tactical Opportunities in Hotwire Communications, a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) provider in the United States.

Adam Simmons is the Founder & CEO of Dgtl Infra. He started his career with an S&P 500-listed big box retailer, in an operations management role. Adam's entrepreneurial "itch" led him to start a 5G-driven company, focused on innovative retail solutions using augmented reality and shoppable videos, which was eventually sold to an advertising and consulting group. After, realizing the potential of 5G, Adam shifted his efforts towards investing in the "building blocks" of 5G - known as digital infrastructure, completing a number of strategic investments, buying cellular towers, data centers and fiber networks.

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