Ridgemont forms J5 Infrastructure Partners

The private equity buyout firm is acquiring two western US-based telecommunications services firms through its second fund.

Through the merger of Cortel and TowerCom Technologies, Ridgemont Equity Partners has formed the telecommunications services company J5 Infrastructure Partners. 

The acquisition and merger of the two telecom companies marks the inaugural investment through the Ridgemont Private Equity Partners II fund, which closed on $995 million in November, beating out the company's first fund closing of $735 million in 2013. Ridgemont was advised by law firm Alston & Bird on the transaction. 

SR Capital Advisors is a co-investor alongside Ridgemont in the deal. Debt financing – which includes capital for additional transactions – was arranged by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and provided by a consortium including Sun Trust Bank, MUFG Union Bank, and US Bank. 

J5 will focus on site acquisition, leasing, permitting, zoning, structural engineering, utility coordination and equipment installations for the four top wireless carriers in the US amoung others, according to a related release. The company will also strategically focus on small cells and distributed antenna systems opportunistically.  

J5 was established with roughly 130 employees, according to a Dow Jones report. As part of its growth strategy, the looks to incorporate new services and densify its presence in the western US through organic growth and continued acquisitions. 

Jerry Elliott who has previously served on leadership teams at Leap/Cricket Wireless, Global Signal and Frontier Communications was selected as J5's first chief executive. He will lead the company from its Orange County, California headquarters. 

“There is a tremendous opportunity for growth in telecom infrastructure services and we intend to leverage the deep subject matter knowledge of the great teams at Cortel and TowerCom to identify new complementary services and markets,” Elliott said. 

Ridgemont principal Kurt Leedy said that with experience in the sector since the early 1990s, his firm is confident that long-term opportunities driven by the exponential creation of digital data and the need to transport information at high speeds creates a strong case for the birth of J5. 

While Ridgemont did not disclose the amount of investment it made to finance the merger, Leedy told reporters that the firm's second fund is able to make investments valued between $25 million and $100 million and that the investment into J5 fell on the lower end of that spectrum.