Brazilian companies are approaching U.S. mobile-phone tower operators to solicit bids for more than $4 billion in wireless assets being sold in three different auction processes, according to people with knowledge of the pending transactions.
BR Towers SA, the owner of wireless infrastructure backed by Banco Bradesco SA’s private-equity unit and GP Investments Ltd., is working with Deutsche Bank AG on a sale, a person with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified because the process is private. In the second process, Grupo TorreSur, owned by Providence Equity Partners LLC, is working with Credit Suisse Group AG, another person said.
Separately, Tim Participacoes SA (TIMP3), the mobile-phone provider owned by Telecom Italia SpA, has hired Morgan Stanley for its own sale of towers for about $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said last month.
U.S. tower companies have been increasing their footprint in Brazil on a bet that wireless providers there will need more infrastructure as consumers snap up smartphones and demand faster Internet access. While Brazil’s towers differ by location, the average value on tower sales rose 32 percent to $200,150 in 2013 from a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
BR Towers, which has 4,200 sites across Brazil according to its website, is likely to sell for about $1 billion, one person said. The company is pitching the sale to American Tower Corp. (AMT), Crown Castle International Corp. (CCI) and SBA Communications Corp. (SBAC), according to the person. Private-equity firms are also looking at BR Towers, the person said.
A spokesman for GP Investments said the firm doesn’t comment on rumors. Stacey Tramonti, a spokeswoman with Providence, didn’t reply to a phone call seeking comment.
Representatives from Crown Castle and SBA declined to comment, while American Tower didn’t respond to an e-mailed request for comment. Spokesmen for Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank also declined to comment.
TorreSur is also pitching to American tower firms, and that transaction could total $2 billion, a person familiar with its process said. Cell Site Solutions Cessao de Infraestruturas SA, backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and American Tower are among the potential buyers that sent letters of interest to Tim, the people said last month.
Mobile-phone companies have been selling their infrastructure to tower operators, leasing back the space they need, to reduce maintenance costs and raise money for other network investments.
Oi Chief Executive Officer Zeinal Bava has also been selling towers. He said in a May 15 conference call that more asset sales, including 1,500 to 2,000 additional wireless towers, may be on the way. Based on last year’s average tower value at auction, the assets could fetch about $400 million.
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