Ganzi in charge of $60bn of assets as Colony Capital takes over Digital Bridge

26 July 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Marc Ganzi’s two big telecoms investment arms, Colony Capital and Digital Bridge Holdings, are to merge, with Ganzi (pictured) becoming CEO of both.

The two have been intertwined for some time, with their Digital Colony Partners leading a number of takeovers – including the current $14.3 billion bid for Zayo.

Ganzi said: “I’m thrilled to combine our team with their powerful arsenal of operating and financial expertise, and the Colony balance sheet and fundraising channels, which will enable us to scale and stay ahead of trends in digital infrastructure.”

The deal has been done by Colony Capital buying up Digital Bridge for $325 million. A statement from the two operations said this was “part of Colony’s strategic evolution into the leading owner and investment manager of assets, businesses, and investment management products in which the digital and real estate frontiers intersect.”

In an interview with Capacity in the June-July issue of the magazine, Ganzi said that the Digital Colony Partners fund had invested $4.1 billion, on top of existing investments of $11-$12 billion. The prospective Zayo investment – a joint bid with Swedish infrastructure investment fund EQT – is extra, but Ganzi did not want to talk about that in his interview.

The takeover announcement did say that “Digital Bridge manages nearly $20 billion of digital infrastructure globally, directly and through Digital Colony Partners”, and pro forma for the “pending transaction” by Digital Colony Partners for Zayo. “Combining this portfolio with Colony’s footprint, the merged firm will manage approximately $60 billion of assets.”

The current CEO of Colony, Thomas Barrack, will return to the position of executive chairman.

“As our experiential world gives way to a new future – a data-driven world – real estate in its current format with long-dated contractual revenue streams from traditional tenants will have to change and adapt or face substantial obsolescence,” said Barrack.

“Data-driven decisions, shared space utilisation, ‘everything-as-a-service’, new communications networks and last-mile delivery systems are examples of new technologies which will disintermediate everything in their paths.”

He added: “I have known Marc Ganzi for over two decades and have admiringly watched his progression and success as an entrepreneur, visionary, and as the leading operator and investor in the digital world.”

Ganzi said: “Our combined vision will focus on the reality that ever-larger numbers of people will use ever more devices, and the true explosion of use, driven by interconnected devices, cloud computing, mobility, big data, the internet of things, and especially the 5G roll-out, is still to come.”

Digital Bridge’s portfolio includes Andean Telecom Partners, DataBank, ExteNet Systems, Mexico Tower Partners, Vantage Data Centers, and Vertical Bridge, which collectively have raised and invested over $9.0 billion in debt and equity capital.

Digital Colony has closed four investments to date: Andean Telecom Partners, Digita, an owner and operator of broadcast tower infrastructure in Finland, Freshwave Group, a rapidly growing UK platform with operations across telecom towers, in-building and outdoor small cells and DAS solutions, and Peer 1, a Toronto-based provider of colocation, network connectivity and managed services.