National Grid Wireless US's towers and fiber acquired by private equity firms for $290 million
May 17, 2007-National Grid Wireless US, a leading wireless and fiber optic infrastructure provider to the communications industry, today announced that it has moved under the wings of private-equity firms. M/C Venture Partners and Wachovia Capital Partners have agreed to purchase the business from National Grid plc for $290 million.

National Grid Wireless US 
Tower Locations

AR 1 MD 1 RI 7
CA 9 ME 10 SC 4
CT 8 MO 14 TN 17
FL 37 NH 12 TX 53
GA 2 NM 1 VT 9
IN 4 NY 20 WV 9
KS 25 NC 5 TOTAL: 312
MA 32 OK 32    
Source: Company Records 5/17/07

National Grid Wireless, located in Westboro, MA, was put up for sale last year by its British utility parent, which has its U.S. headquarters in Westboro. The U.S. wireless operations were formed in 2002, led by CEO Doug Wiest, American Tower Corporation's former COO, to help cell phone carriers locate their network equipment on National Grid's electric transmission towers. The company also owns and builds towers apart from National Grid's.

Strong revenue growth

The company, which has 120 employees, will continue to be led by Wiest. Over the last five years, the company has grown revenue and EBITDA by 45% and 51%, respectively. 

National Grid Wireless US operates an extensive communications infrastructure portfolio consisting of approximately 312 communications towers and over 1,100 route miles of dark fiber. Additionally, the company is a pioneer in outdoor distributed antenna systems, including launching the first, multi-carrier outdoor DAS in the US on Nantucket three years ago.

The company has also recently initiated a managed fiber backhaul offering and provides full turnkey site development services throughout the Northeast US.  National Grid Wireless US will continue operations throughout the US, marketing its wireless and fiber optic infrastructure to wireless communications companies, telecommunications providers, governmental agencies, and medium to large enterprises.

"This transaction is great news for the company and its customers. National Grid Wireless US is a rapidly growing, profitable business in an expanding segment of the marketplace. Our new investors have extensive experience financing leading communications companies and share management's vision for the future of the business. The transition of ownership to M/C Venture Partners and Wachovia Capital Partners will be seamless for our customers, employees, and business partners," said Wiest.

"This partnership is built on a solid foundation and we are very well-positioned for future growth across all business lines," added Rod Smith, VP and Chief Financial Officer.

Jim Wade, Managing General Partner with M/C Venture Partners, and Walker Simmons, Partner with Wachovia Capital Partners, said, "We believe National Grid Wireless US operates an attractive portfolio of communications infrastructure assets that is well-positioned to benefit from continued growth in wireless and broadband communications.  Our plan is to support management by providing the strategic and financial resources needed to accelerate the company's future growth and build upon the record performance that the company has achieved thus far."

M/C Venture Partners is also an investor in MetroPCS Communications Inc., a mobile phone service provider that raised $1.1 billion last month in the biggest US initial public offering this year.

The acquisition of National Grid Wireless could complement expansion plans of MetroPCS, which intends to use the money from the IPO to expand its mobile-phone network into New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Las Vegas.

The sale of National Grid Wireless is part of a strategy outlined last year by its parent company to sell its non-core assets and sharpen its focus on regulated utilities. The company operates Britain's electrical grid and is in the process of buying US utility KeySpan, which serves New York City and Long Island.

Media Venture Partners, LLC served as the advisor to the buyer on this transaction.

M/C Venture Partners is a venture capital firm focused exclusively on the communications, media, and information technology sectors. The firm has invested over $1.8 billion into nearly 80 companies in those sectors. Companies the firm has backed include MetroPCS, Cavalier Telephone, TeleCorp PCS, Triad Cellular, Crowley Cellular, and Brooks Fiber. The firm has strong institutional backing from the nation's leading pension funds and endowments as well as a long track record of success. M/C Venture Partners has offices in Boston and San Francisco.

Wachovia Capital Partners is the private equity investing arm of Wachovia Corporation, the fourth largest bank holding company in the U.S. Since the group's inception in 1988, WCP has invested in excess of $3.3 billion of private equity capital on behalf of Wachovia. WCP's current investment portfolio is comprised of 48 companies representing roughly $1.1 billion in invested capital.