CBRE Caledon Capital Management, the private infrastructure investment arm of CBRE Global Investors, today announced it has agreed to acquire a majority equity interest in CitySwitch Tower Holdings, a build-to-suit (BTS) wireless tower owner, developer, and operator, from American Infrastructure Funds and other shareholders. Specifically, CBRE Caledon is investing in CitySwitch through one of its funds and a separately managed account. Additionally, CitySwitch’s management team will retain an equity stake in the company.
Notably, American Infrastructure Funds was also the controlling shareholder of Landmark Dividend prior to its recent purchase by DigitalBridge. Particularly, Landmark Dividend owned 13.2% of Landmark Infrastructure Partners’ common units and 100% of the firm’s General Partner interest.
Finally, CBRE Caledon’s acquisition of CitySwitch is expected to close in late September or early October 2021.
CitySwitch – History
CitySwitch’s legacy started in 2004 as a partnership between Norfolk Southern Railway and wireless infrastructure and telecommunications industry professionals. In 2010, CitySwitch sold its owned and managed tower portfolio to Global Tower Partners (GTP) – a company led by Marc Ganzi, its founder and CEO – who is now CEO of DigitalBridge. Subsequently, in October 2013, American Tower acquired Global Tower Partners (GTP).
In early 2018, CitySwitch reemerged with the financial support of American Infrastructure Funds. Specifically, American Infrastructure Funds provided capital to CitySwitch for its build-to-suit (BTS) program of new cell towers for AT&T, who would subsequently lease those towers.
By November 2018, Rob Raville, CitySwitch’s CEO noted that the company had a “pipeline of several hundred new towers that will be developed over the next 12 to 18 months”.
CitySwitch – Overview
CitySwitch owns a significant aggregation of railroad rights-of-way for tower development and leasing in the United States. The company’s tower portfolio spans 25 states, primarily in the Eastern United States, with a presence in 72 of the top 100 metro areas. Additionally, CitySwitch holds access to over 40.0k linear miles of railway in 43 states.
Per the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), CitySwitch currently has a total of 224 sites, of which 152 are constructed and 72 are granted, but not constructed.
CitySwitch specializes in railroad asset development, along rail corridors, enabling the company to deliver unique tower locations to its customers.
CitySwitch offers turn-key development timelines of 8 to 12 months for macro towers and 6 to 9 months for small cell poles. In turn, this has led to the company developing and managing 500+ towers on public and private properties.
Customers of CitySwitch include national (e.g., AT&T) and local (e.g., Southern Linc) wireless carriers, railroad tenants (e.g., CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway), and governmental agencies.
CitySwitch’s portfolio of operating towers have long-term anchor contracts, with 85+ years of remaining contract life. Importantly, these long-term contracts ensure highly-predictable future cash flows for the business.
Under CBRE Caledon’s ownership, CitySwitch will expand its build-to-suit (BTS) pipeline and accelerate its tower count through organic growth. Additionally, the company’s existing tower infrastructure has the potential for future lease-up / colocation activity.
CitySwitch will continue to be led by its President & CEO, Rob Raville, following CBRE Caledon’s acquisition.
Transaction Advisors – CBRE Caledon, CitySwitch, American Infrastructure
CBRE Caledon’s financial advisor was Evercore. Additionally, CBRE Caledon’s legal advisor was Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
CitySwitch and American Infrastructure’s financial advisor was TD Securities.
CBRE Caledon – Overview
CBRE Caledon Capital Management is a Toronto-headquartered infrastructure and private equity firm. The group has a team of 61 investment professionals and oversees $9.1bn of assets under management (AUM). Finally, CBRE Caledon is a business unit within CBRE Group’s investment management subsidiary, CBRE Global Investors.
CBRE Caledon has recently been increasing its exposure to the digital infrastructure sector. Overall, the firm has participated in two investment partnerships with DigitalBridge and purchased a business from Grain Management. Below are select digital infrastructure portfolio companies which CBRE Caledon has an equity stake in:
- Vantage Stabilized Data Centers (SDC): co-investor in the DigitalBridge-led hyperscale data center investment
- DataBank: co-investor in the DigitalBridge-led edge data center investment
- WANRack: fiber-based broadband provider serving K-12 school districts in the United States