AT&T continues to operate outside the sphere of influence of mainstream tower companies. In a deal that would have typically attracted the likes of American Tower, Crown Castle International and SBA Communications, AT&T has agreed to a sale-leaseback of its remaining domestic company-owned wireless towers to Peppertree Capital Management.
Under the terms of the sale, valued at up to $680 million, Peppertree will purchase more than 1,000 AT&T towers, and AT&T will lease back capacity on the towers from Peppertree.
Peppertree is usually funding other tower companies. Last January, it committed an additional $300 million of equity capital to fund future growth at TowerCo. In 2016, it increased its funding commitment to Blue Sky Towers from $80 million to $120 million. K2 Towers and Horvath Communications have also received capital infusions from Peppertree.
The sale is consistent with AT&T’s plans to monetize non-strategic assets as it continues to pay down debt. Given the company’s confidence in reaching a net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio in the 2.5x range by the end of this year, shareholders should expect that share buybacks will be in the mix in the fourth quarter of 2019, along with continued de-levering.
The transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including due diligence. AT&T expects to close a substantial number of the towers by the end of the year and the remaining in subsequent closings.