Lightower Fiber Networks and Sidera Networks signed a definitive agreement led by Berkshire Partners, in an acquisition and merger transaction valued at more than $2 billion. The combined company will be led by Lightower CEO, Rob Shanahan. The merger is pending regulatory approval and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.
Lightower Fiber Networks is a metro fiber and bandwidth provider in the Northeast, with more than 6,600 fiber route miles coupled with transport, alternative access and nationwide long-haul services. Its fiber footprint extends from New England, to eastern New York State, New Jersey, Long Island and New York City. Sidera Networks provides high-capacity communications services to large enterprise, carrier and data center customers.
The combined company will operate a high-performance, fiber-based network throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, with connections to critical landing sites and exchanges internationally. The network will offer customers more than 20,000 route miles and provide access to more than 6,000 on-net locations, including commercial buildings, data centers, financial exchanges, content hubs and other critical interconnection facilities.
“Lightower and Sidera will offer customers an industry-leading, fiber-based network with a deeply experienced team supporting it,” stated Shanahan, in a press release.
“This combination is highly complementary,” commented Mike Sicoli, CEO of Sidera, in a company statement. “The broad reach and scale of our combined network, the cumulative expertise of our dedicated employees and our shared passion for customer service and satisfaction will set the new company apart and deliver tangible benefits to our customers.”
Lightower and Sidera offer fiber-based networking solutions comprised of Ethernet, dark fiber, wavelengths, Internet access, private networks and collocation services. Both companies also offer industry-specific solutions, such as ultra-low-latency connections for financial services firms, video transport for media companies, wireless backhaul for wireless operators, as well as diverse cloud, content and data center connectivity.
AT&T, in a bid to expand its 4G coverage, has announced an agreement to purchase NextWave Wireless. Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T will acquire all the equity of NextWave for approximately $25 million plus a contingent payment of up to approximately $25 million. Through a separate agreement with NextWave’s debt holders, all of the company’s outstanding debt will be acquired by AT&T or retired by NextWave, for a total of $600 million in cash. The outstanding debt held by NextWave’s bondholders will be satisfied through cash and a transfer of selected NextWave assets. NextWave’s debtholders have agreed to the terms, and a majority of its shareholders have agreed to support the transaction.
NextWave holds licenses in the Wireless Communication Services (WCS) and Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) bands. NextWave will only hold its U.S. WCS and AWS spectrum assets at the time of the acquisition, with the remainder of its assets and liabilities, including its Canadian WCS spectrum and its 2.5 MHz EBS/BRS spectrum assets, being held by a new holding company (NextWave Holdco).
The deal could give AT&T more room on the airwaves for wireless broadband, but there are unresolved problems with some of NextWave’s radio bands, which lie close to frequencies that are used for satellite communications, and possible interference concerns have prevented them from being used. AT&T has asked the FCC to approve a solution that it says would prevent interference. If approved, the proposal will enable AT&T to begin initial deployment of WCS spectrum for added 4G LTE capacity, in approximately three years.
The transaction is subject to review by the Federal Communications Commission and to other customary closing conditions. AT&T anticipates closing the transaction by the end of 2012.