Mergers and acquisitions in the cell tower market are taking place at a breathtaking rate, and analysts say that the market will continue to see consolidation.  Many of these are cross-border deals, merging companies from different countries or different continents.  In an age of global transactions and communications, much can be accomplished without physical proximity: but new methods of gathering field data and verifying local information can help ensure a fair valuation and a strong position for negotiation.

Buyer Beware

In the M&A process, tower companies depend on a rapid, accurate and detailed understanding of assets that are being acquired in order to be successful and maintain profitability.  With acquisition targets that may frequently be an ocean away, however, buyers face a significant challenge: gathering accurate field data quickly in order to negotiate a fair price for the assets. Often, companies are forced to rely on seller information supplemented with expensive and time-consuming sample audits.

All cell towers may look alike on a spreadsheet.  Sometimes, however, the spreadsheets bear no relation to the actual assets in the field.  In over hundreds of surveys and inspections of tower assets, vHive has found that the reality of a site often differs significantly from the records: sometimes to the extent of recording equipment that has never actually been built or showing equipment that is no longer on the asset.

While these discrepancies are not necessarily deliberate, they nonetheless represent a major problem for the acquiring company.  Accurate asset data has a variety of implications, ranging from deal valuation to long term financial benefit, accurate billing and the value of ongoing operations.  Companies need real data on the utilization level of the tower, the tower’s operational condition, maintenance required, and the proximity of competitor towers.

Detailed Visual Evidence: from a World Away

vHive’s autonomous drone software solution can be implemented as part of any M&A due-diligence process to guarantee full transparency and safeguard the parties involved. vHive enables audits on any type of tower – monopole, self-support lattice, guy wire or rooftop: providing fast and accurate audit data.

With the vHive platform, companies can direct automated drone inspections at any location and receive accurate data insights quickly.  Local field personnel can execute a drone survey that gathers a high-quality data on acquired towers.  That data can be uploaded to the cloud and processed into 3D digital twins of the assets that can be shared anywhere in the world: if a picture is worth a thousand words, this type of visual data is incontrovertible.   This means that acquisition teams can quickly receive reliable data on hundreds or thousands of assets and are not forced to rely on a small sampling.

vHive’s AI-powered software can then perform automated analysis of active inventory: including count, type, location, and orientation of each component.  Available space for new leases on a tower can be automatically calculated: faults, rust, or other maintenance issues can be automatically identified.  Any discrepancies in inventory could translate to lost revenue: and can be addressed in the negotiation process.

In addition, vHive can provide a 360º view of the site surroundings providing context, information on competitive towers, and line of site analysis.

Smoothing the Way for a Successful Negotiation

The use of autonomous drone inspections with the vHive platform can make the entire audit process faster and easier for acquisition teams.  More data, and more accurate data, about the assets for sale can smooth the way for successful negotiations.   That same data insights can be used to make better predictions and improve profitability of the towers after purchase – providing a competitive advantage during the merger and acquisition process and long after.

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