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St. Petersburg fiber communications company Tower Cloud being acquired for $230 million

ST. PETERSBURG — Tower Cloud, a communications infrastructure company based in St. Petersburg, is being acquired by publicly traded Communications Sales & Leasing Inc. for $230 million in cash and stock.

Privately held Tower Cloud, founded in 2006, primarily develops infrastructure solutions in the wireless and enterprise sectors. Its current fiber network consists of about 6,000 route miles connecting Southeast markets.

Under the deal announced Monday, Tower Cloud will be combined with the operations of another CS&L fiber company based in Dallas that serves markets from Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma to parts of the Midwest and Northwest.

The combined company, Tower Cloud CEO Ron Mudry said, will vastly improve his company's outreach. "We'll be in 24 states instead of four," Mudry said. "We will have more than $500 million of revenue under contract."

It will also triple Tower Cloud's network to about 23,000 miles.

CS&L, meanwhile, can tap into Tower Cloud's relationships with national wireless carriers and its expertise in smaller cell systems, which can bring more capacity closer to customers than relying on traditional cell towers.

"Tower Cloud significantly expands our backhaul network and greatly accelerates our entry into the high-growth small cell and dark fiber businesses," Kenny Gunderman, president and CEO of CS&L, said in a statement. "We continue to grow our wireless carrier relationships across all asset classes and are seeing an increasing number of opportunities arise as carriers densify their networks."

In a conference call, Gunderman indicated that Mudry would have a "meaningful role" in the organization. Mudry said he plans to stay in St. Petersburg but his job has not yet been determined.

Tower Cloud has about 70 employees, half of them in St. Petersburg. Some job cuts are anticipated, at least short term.

"My own view is this is a growth story," Mudry said. "Over the longer term, there's an increased opportunity to bring even more jobs to the area."

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Contact Jeff Harrington at Follow @JeffMHarrington.

St. Petersburg fiber communications company Tower Cloud being acquired for $230 million 06/20/16 [Last modified: Monday, June 20, 2016 6:20pm]
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