Renewing its thrust into Latin American, American Tower has acquired 2,500 towers from Telefónica for $500 million. The deal strengthens American’s relationship with Telefónica, while doubling its portfolio in Mexico.
Interest in the Mexican wireless market is increasing as carrier activity grows as a result of the Mexican government’s spectrum auction in 2010. Tower leasing is expected to rise as carriers deploy new spectrum and next generation wireless technologies.
“The mobile sector in Mexico remains one of the main growth drivers for the telecom industry and grew at approximately 10 percent annually, achieving more than 85 percent penetration by mid-2011. Broadband is the other principal driver in Mexico’s telecommunications market,” according to Zacks Investment Research.
Piper Jaffray said the deal would be good for American considering its track record with acquisitions, strict return requirements and established presence in Mexico.
“After years of no tower growth in Mexico for American Tower, it’s expanding its portfolio at a time when carriers are deploying incremental capital into their networks,” the firm wrote. “Given management’s strong track record with acquisitions and its attractive return requirements, we think the transaction will prove to be a net positive for the company.”
Excluding the value added tax, American paid $200,000 per tower, according to Piper Jaffray.
“A solid deal for American Tower,” the firm wrote. We think the price is reasonable given that the towers come with an anchor tenant and have potential for growth.”
In other American Tower news, the company completed its expected merger with American Tower REIT on Dec. 31, allowing it to qualify as a real estate investment trust (REIT) for U.S. federal income tax purposes in the taxable year commencing January 1, 2012.