Uniti Group Inc. entered into an operating company/property company partnership with Macquarie Infrastructure Partners to acquire telecommunications company Bluebird Network LLC and said it is evaluating the possible sale of its Latin America tower business.
Under the partnership, the communications infrastructure real estate investment trust agreed to acquire Bluebird's fiber network for $319 million, while Macquarie Infrastructure Partners will acquire Bluebird's operations for an undisclosed sum.
Uniti will fund $175 million of the acquisition price using cash, with the rest to be funded from prepaid rent, to be received from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners at closing.
Uniti also agreed to sell Uniti Fiber's Midwest operations to Macquarie Infrastructure Partners for a total upfront cash payment of approximately $37 million, while retaining its existing Midwest fiber network, which comprises approximately 2,500 miles of network predominantly in Illinois.
Following completion of the transactions, Uniti will lease the Bluebird fiber network and its Midwest fiber network, on a combined basis, to Macquarie Infrastructure Partners under a long-term triple-net lease for an initial term of 20 years, with multiple renewal options.
Separately, Bluebird said it will acquire Uniti's Midwestern fiber business and receive a long-term lease over Uniti's Midwestern fiber network. The two adjacent networks will be combined and operated as one company under the Bluebird name by the existing Bluebird management team.
The companies expect the transactions to close by the end of the third quarter.
Bluebird's network comprises approximately 178,000 fiber strand miles in the Midwest across Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Oklahoma.
Macquarie Infrastructure Partners operates within the Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets division of Macquarie Group Ltd.
Wells Fargo Securities LLC was the exclusive financial adviser to Macquarie Infrastructure Partners and Uniti, while Barclays provided committed financing to Uniti. MVP Capital Advisors was the exclusive financial adviser to Bluebird.
Uniti also noted that it has received inquiries from interested third parties in acquiring Uniti Towers' approximately 500 towers in Mexico, Colombia and Nicaragua.