Macquarie Infrastructure Partners expands portfolio

Macquarie’s North America-focused unlisted infrastructure business has agreed to buy two renewable power plants for $25m and has added several businesses to its wireless communication tower operator, Global Tower Partners. The tower business has grown from approximately 8,000 towers to more than 13,000 under Macquarie’s ownership.

Macquarie Infrastructure Partners has expanded its portfolio, making new additions and bolt-on investments to a wireless tower operator backed by its second infrastructure fund.

In late July, the firm agreed to buy two renewable power plants for $25 million, according to a regulatory filing made by the seller, Ridgewood Renewable Power.

Ridgewood, a New Jersey-based independent power producer, said in the filing that it sold Macquarie two power plants powered by landfill gas: one in Rhode Island that generates 12 megawatts of electricity a year and another in California that generates 5 megawatts.

Macquarie agreed to pay $17.5 million for the Rhode Island plant and $7.5 million for the California plant, according to the filing.

Landfill gas power plants operate by capturing methane gas, a common by-product of solid waste, and burning it for energy. Methane is also a major component of natural gas, a cleaner-burning fossil fuel than crude oil, so landfill gas is often considered a clean energy source.

For Ridgewood, the deal will mark at least the second landfill gas sale to Macquarie. In February 2007, the firm sold a UK landfill gas business, CLP Envirogas, to Macquarie’s €1.5 billion European Infrastructure Fund I for $230 million.

Ridgewood said Macquarie will fund the purchase price for the US landfill gas plants with equity from its second fund, Macquarie Infrastructure Partners II. The fund closed on $1.6 billion in total commitments earlier this year.

The Ridgewood deal will mark at least the third acquisition for Macquarie Infrastructure Partners II. Macquarie has previously disclosed that the fund invested in Puget Energy, a Seattle-based electric utility, and Global Tower Partners, a Florida-based owner and lessee of wireless telecommunication towers.

Global Tower Partners has been busy making bolt-on acquisitions in the last two months. In September, the company added 2,422 owned and leased tower sites to its portfolio through the acquisition of Highpointe Group, a manger of wireless rooftop antennas in Texas.

The same month, Global Tower Partners acquired 450 towers and tower development rights from an affiliate of railroad Norfolk Southern, according to a statement.

More recently, the company executed a sale-leaseback transaction for another 32 towers with a regional cellular carrier in Alabama, according to a statement.

Global Tower Partners now has more than 13,000 tower sites in its portfolio, according to its website. The 13,000 includes both towers it owns and leases and places it at about half the 23,500 towers operated by Crown Castle, a listed competitor.

In July 2007, at the time of Macquarie Group’s original investment in the company, Global Tower Partners counted about 8,000 towers in its portfolio, according to an old press release.

Global Tower Partners did not disclose financials for its recent acquisitions.

Global Tower Partners did not return a call for comment.

A Macquarie spokesperson declined comment.