Cumulus Media, one of the largest owners of radio stations across the United States, recently announced the initial closing of their broadcast tower sale-leaseback transaction with Vertical Bridge, one of the largest telecommunication infrastructure private owners and managers in the United States. The initial closing of its tower portfolio transaction was for $208 million in gross proceeds. and the company anticipates that it will close on the remainder of the previously announced $213 million purchase price through one or more subsequent closings by the end of the second quarter of 2021. Global investment bank Houlihan Lokey, which is well-versed in both the tower and broadcast media sectors, represented Cumulus Media in the transaction.
Vertical Bridge, founded in 2014, has quickly become one of the largest telecommunication infrastructure private owners and managers in the United States. The company currently has more than 288,000 owned and managed sites nationwide, including wireless and broadcast towers, rooftops, land parcels, and billboards. These assets have been assembled through more than 250 acquisitions and 180 real estate transactions.
“Our broadcast portfolio has grown steadily and performed well since acquiring the iHeartMedia towers, and adding the Cumulus Media sites to our portfolio further broadens and diversifies this segment of our business,” Vertical Bridge Co-Founder and CEO Alex Gellman said a statement. “Broadcast towers are mission critical for our radio operating partners, as iHeartMedia and Cumulus Media both demonstrated through their respective restructurings – affirming leases and rents. With over 60% of each company’s stations on Vertical Bridge-owned towers, we view both iHeartMedia and Cumulus Media as strategic partners and are thrilled by the strong and rapid recovery of each from the impacts of COVID-19, as well as their strong outlook going forward.”
Atlanta-based Cumulus Media is an audio-first media and entertainment company that delivers content to more than 250 million people every month. The company comprises more than 400 owned and operated stations across 87 markets. Its content includes nationally syndicated sports, news, talk and entertainment programming as well as original podcasts. This transaction is not expected to have any effect on the company’s current broadcast operations.
“We are thrilled to have expeditiously completed the first closing of this significant transaction,” Cumulus Media President CEO Mary G. Berner said in a statement. “Pro forma for its completion and based on our Q2 ending cash balance, we will have reduced net debt by nearly $325 million during 2020 and by nearly $580 million since emerging from bankruptcy in 2018. Our further improved liquidity position and covenant-lite, long-dated debt will continue to support our growth initiatives and allow us to take advantage of accretive opportunities as we navigate through near-term uncertainties to drive long-term shareholder value.”
“We were very excited about working with the Cumulus team to assist them in this transaction and help maximize the value of the towers,” Houlihan Lokey Managing Director Clayton Funk told Connected Real Estate Magazine. “We were able to bring the Houlihan Lokey team’s unmatched broadcast tower experience to benefit Cumulus, and Vertical Bridge will be an outstanding partner for Cumulus going forward.”
Houlihan Lokey served as the exclusive financial advisor to Cumulus Media and assisted in structuring and negotiating the transaction on its behalf.
Joe Dyton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.