Vertical Bridge REIT, LLC Friday announced that it has completed its second successful private asset-backed securitization of 2020, with the issuance of $360.5 million of Secured Tower Revenue Notes. In June, Vertical Bridge issued $534 million of Secured Tower Revenue Notes in the first securitization of a non-traditional or esoteric asset following the ABS market’s shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2016, the Company has completed six securitizations and issued more than $1.7 billion of Secured Tower Revenue Notes.
Proceeds from the transaction will be used to refinance Vertical Bridge’s October 2016 securitization, fund its recently announced acquisition of Cumulus Media’s broadcast tower portfolio and fuel company growth. The Notes are collateralized by 636 broadcast tower sites, spanning 47 states, including 381 sites acquired from iHeartMedia in connection with a sale-leaseback transaction in 2015. The portfolio also includes more than 200 sites which Vertical Bridge agreed to acquire from and lease back to Cumulus Media in August of this year. iHeartMedia and Cumulus Media are the two largest radio broadcasters in the U.S.
“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,” said Alex Gellman, Co-Founder and CEO of Vertical Bridge. “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 percent 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.”
“Broadcast continues to be an attractive medium to connect audiences and advertisers – 80 percent of listeners are tuning into radio as much as or more than they were prior to the pandemic. In order to optimize their reach, operators need towers with height and location,” said Vertical Bridge CFO Michael Romaniw. “The sites in this portfolio are some of the tallest in the country and span rural, suburban and urban areas, making them ideal for reaching radio and TV targets and for additional lease-up opportunities.”
The Notes rank pari passu by tranche with Vertical Bridge’s securitization from November 2018, which was valued at $71.6 million. The Notes were issued in three classes and rated by Morningstar: a $289.5 million tranche, rated A (high); a $39 million tranche, rated A (low); and a $32 million tranche, rated BBB. The Notes have a 5-year anticipated repayment date with a 30-year final maturity.
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