M/C Partners was a founding investor in Lightower, which it created by co-sourcing, on a proprietary basis, metro fiber and wireless tower assets from National Grid, an international power company. The company operated an extensive communications infrastructure portfolio consisting of approximately 350 communications towers and over 1,100 route miles of dark fiber. Using Lightower’s concentration of unique fiber assets in the Northeastern United States, M/C saw an opportunity to use the Lightower platform to build a much larger fiber network services provider in the region.
How we added value
Proprietary Sourcing of Under Managed Asset Base
M/C’s acute industry knowledge network of relationships led M/C to discover and acquire the National Grid tower and fiber assets preemptively to a competitive auction process.
Company Restructuring and Reorganization
M/C and Pamlico reorganized the company into separate fiber and tower divisions and recruited a repeat M/C entrepreneur to run the fiber business. In 2008, SBA Communications Corporation (Nasdaq:SBAC) acquired Lightower Wireless LLC, the wireless infrastructure subsidiary that held the wireless tower assets.
Strategic Guidance/Sale Process
M/C ultimately led the sale process of Lightower to Berkshire Partners in 2012, which simultaneously merged the Lightower assets with Sidera Networks.
Recruited Management Team
As a lead investor, M/C Partners was instrumental in recruiting the new management team for Lightower, led by repeat M/C entrepreneur Rob Shanahan, co-founder and former CEO of Conversent Communications.
Providing Growth Capital to Fund Acquisitions
After M/C and Pamlico’s initial acquisition of Lightower’s utility fiber assets in 2007, Lightower acquired six additional fiber operators to build the premier metro fiber company in the Northeast.
M/C continuously remained active in corporate development/acquisition efforts as well as capital-raising, including a February 2012 recapitalization that better positioned the company financially.
From 2007 to 2012, M/C was able to leverage its industry knowledge and network of relationships to uniquely create the investment opportunity, recruit a new management team, and fund organic growth and acquisitions ofseveral fiber companies. Lightower grew to become the leading metro fiber provider in the North East region, increasing its 1,100 fiber route miles to nearly 6,600 at exit and generating annual EBITDA growth of ~21%.