SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Annual report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
Transition report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number: 001-14195
American Tower Corporation
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)
116 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
(Address of principal executive offices)
Telephone Number (617) 375-7500
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each Class
Name of exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $0.01 par value
New York Stock Exchange
1.375% Senior Notes due 2025
New York Stock Exchange
1.950% Senior Notes due 2026
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act: Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act: Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days: Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check One):
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act): Yes ☐ No ☒
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2019 was $89.9 billion, based on the closing price of the registrant’s common stock as reported on the New York Stock Exchange as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second quarter.
As of February 18, 2020, there were 442,911,804 shares of common stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the definitive proxy statement (the “Definitive Proxy Statement”) to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission relative to the registrant’s 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Report.
AMERICAN TOWER CORPORATION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT
FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2019
AMERICAN TOWER CORPORATION
TABLE OF CONTENTS—(Continued)
FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT
FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2019
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K (this “Annual Report”) contains statements about future events and expectations, or forward-looking statements, all of which are inherently uncertain. We have based those forward-looking statements on our current expectations and projections about future results. When we use words such as “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimates,” “expects” or similar expressions, we are making forward-looking statements. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements we make regarding future prospects of growth in the communications site leasing industry, the effects of consolidation among companies in our industry and among our tenants and other competitive and financial pressures, the level of future expenditures by companies in this industry and other trends in this industry, changes in zoning, tax and other laws and regulations and administrative and judicial decisions, economic, political and other events, particularly those relating to our international operations, our future capital expenditure levels, the impact of technology changes on our industry and our business, our ability to maintain or increase our market share, our plans to fund our future liquidity needs, our substantial leverage and debt service obligations, our future financing transactions, our future operating results, our ability to remain qualified for taxation as a real estate investment trust (REIT), the amount and timing of any future distributions including those we are required to make as a REIT, natural disasters and similar events and our ability to protect our rights to the land under our towers. These statements are based on our management’s beliefs and assumptions, which in turn are based on currently available information. These assumptions could prove inaccurate. These forward-looking statements may be found under the captions “Business” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” as well as in this Annual Report generally.
You should keep in mind that any forward-looking statement we make in this Annual Report or elsewhere speaks only as of the date on which we make it. New risks and uncertainties arise from time to time, and it is impossible for us to predict these events or how they may affect us. In any event, these and other important factors, including those set forth in Item 1A of this Annual Report under the caption “Risk Factors,” may cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by our forward-looking statements. We have no duty, and do not intend, to update or revise the forward-looking statements we make in this Annual Report, except as may be required by law. In light of these risks and uncertainties, you should keep in mind that the future events or circumstances described in any forward-looking statement we make in this Annual Report or elsewhere might not occur. References in this Annual Report to “we,” “our” and the “Company” refer to American Tower Corporation and its predecessor, as applicable, individually and collectively with its subsidiaries as the context requires.
We are one of the largest global real estate investment trusts and a leading independent owner, operator and developer of multitenant communications real estate. Our primary business is the leasing of space on communications sites to wireless service providers, radio and television broadcast companies, wireless data providers, government agencies and municipalities and tenants in a number of other industries. We refer to this business as our property operations, which accounted for 98% of our total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2019. We also offer tower-related services in the United States, which we refer to as our services operations. These services include site acquisition, zoning and permitting and structural analysis, which primarily support our site leasing business, including the addition of new tenants and equipment on our sites.
American Tower Corporation was originally created as a subsidiary of American Radio Systems Corporation in 1995 and was spun off into a free-standing public company in 1998. We are a holding company and conduct our operations through our directly and indirectly owned subsidiaries and joint ventures. Our principal domestic operating subsidiaries are American Towers LLC and SpectraSite Communications, LLC. We conduct our international operations primarily through our subsidiary, American Tower International, Inc., which in turn conducts operations through its various international holding and operating subsidiaries and joint ventures.
Since inception, we have grown our communications real estate portfolio through acquisitions, long-term lease arrangements and site development. Our portfolio primarily consists of towers that we own and towers that we operate pursuant to long-term lease arrangements, as well as distributed antenna system (“DAS”) networks, which provide seamless coverage solutions in certain in-building and outdoor wireless environments. In addition to the communications sites in our portfolio, we manage rooftop and tower sites for property owners under various contractual arrangements. We also hold other telecommunications infrastructure, fiber and property interests that we lease primarily to communications service providers and third-party tower operators.
In 2019, we added approximately 5,800 communications sites to our portfolio in Africa and launched operations in Burkina Faso and Niger as part of our acquisition of Eaton Towers Holdings Limited (“Eaton Towers,” and the acquisition, the “Eaton Towers Acquisition”). We also signed a definitive agreement to acquire approximately 3,200 communications sites in Chile and Peru from Entel PCS Telecomunicaciones S.A. and Entel Peru S.A. and closed on the first tranche of sites, adding approximately 2,400 communications sites to our portfolio in Latin America (the “Entel Acquisition”). The remaining communications sites are expected to close in tranches beginning in the first quarter of 2020, subject to certain closing conditions. As of December 31, 2019, our communications real estate portfolio of 179,520 communications sites included 40,974 communications sites in the U.S., 74,712 communications sites in Asia, 18,370 communications sites in Africa, 4,736 communications sites in Europe and 40,728 communications sites in Latin America, as well as urban telecommunications assets in Argentina, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa.
We operate as a real estate investment trust for U.S. federal income tax purposes (“REIT”). Accordingly, we generally are not required to pay U.S. federal income taxes on income generated by our REIT operations, including the income derived from leasing space on our towers, as we receive a dividends paid deduction for distributions to stockholders that generally offsets our REIT income and gains. However, we remain obligated to pay U.S. federal income taxes on earnings from our domestic taxable REIT subsidiaries (“TRSs”). In addition, our international assets and operations, regardless of their classification for U.S. tax purposes, continue to be subject to taxation in the jurisdictions where those assets are held or those operations are conducted.
The use of TRSs enables us to continue to engage in certain businesses while complying with REIT qualification requirements. We may, from time to time, change the election of previously designated TRSs to be included as part of the REIT. As of December 31, 2019, our REIT-qualified businesses included our U.S. tower leasing business and a majority of our U.S. indoor DAS networks business and services segment, as well as most of our operations in Mexico, Germany, Costa Rica, Nigeria and France.
During the fourth quarter of 2019, as a result of recent acquisitions, including the Eaton Towers Acquisition, and changes to our organizational structure, we reviewed and changed our reportable segments to divide our Europe, Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”) property segment into two separate segments, Africa property and Europe property. We now report our results in six segments – U.S. property, Asia property, Africa property, Europe property, Latin America property and services. We believe this change provides more visibility into these operating segments and better aligns our reporting with management’s current approach of allocating costs and resources, managing growth and profitability and assessing the operating performance of our business segments.
Products and Services
Our property operations accounted for 98%, 98% and 99% of our total revenues for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Our revenue is primarily generated from tenant leases. Our tenants lease space on our communications real estate, where they install and maintain their equipment. Rental payments vary considerably depending upon numerous factors, including, but not limited to, amount, type and position of tenant equipment on the tower, remaining tower capacity and tower location. Our costs typically include ground rent (which is primarily fixed under long-term lease agreements with annual cost escalations) and power and fuel costs, some or all of which may be passed through to our tenants, as well as property taxes and repair and maintenance expenses. Our property operations have generated consistent growth in revenue and typically have low cash flow volatility due to the following characteristics:
Long-term tenant leases with contractual rent escalations. In general, our tenant leases with wireless carriers have initial non-cancellable terms of five to ten years with multiple renewal terms, with provisions that periodically increase the rent due under the lease, typically annually, based on a fixed escalation percentage (averaging approximately 3% in the United States) or an inflationary index in our international markets, or a combination of both. Based upon foreign currency exchange rates and the tenant leases in place as of December 31, 2019, we expect to generate nearly $46.9 billion of non-cancellable tenant lease revenue over future periods, before the impact of straight-line lease accounting.
Consistent demand for our sites. As a result of rapidly growing usage of mobile data and other wireless services and the corresponding wireless industry capital spending trends in the markets we serve, we anticipate consistent demand for our communications sites. We believe that our global asset base positions us well to benefit from the increasing proliferation of advanced wireless devices and the increasing usage of high bandwidth applications on those devices. We have the ability to add new tenants and new equipment for existing tenants on our sites, which typically results in incremental revenue and modest incremental costs. Our site portfolio and our established tenant base provide us with a solid platform for new business opportunities, which has historically resulted in consistent and predictable organic revenue growth.
High lease renewal rates. Our tenants tend to renew leases because suitable alternative sites may not exist or be available and repositioning a site in their network may be expensive and may adversely affect network quality. Historically, churn has averaged approximately 1% to 2% of tenant billings per year. We define churn as tenant billings lost when a tenant cancels or does not renew its lease or, in limited circumstances, when the lease rates on existing leases are reduced. We derive our churn rate for a given year by dividing our tenant billings lost on this basis by our prior-year tenant billings. As discussed in Item 7 of this Annual Report under the caption “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Executive Overview,” we experienced elevated levels of churn in recent years due to carrier consolidation-driven churn in India. We anticipate that our churn rate will move closer to historical levels over time, however, in the immediate term, we expect that our churn rate will remain elevated, primarily due to the uncertainty created by the recent court ruling by the Indian Supreme Court, as set forth in Item 1A of this Annual Report under the captions “Risk Factors—A substantial portion of our revenue is derived from a small number of tenants, and we are sensitive to adverse changes in the creditworthiness and financial strength of our tenants” and “Risk Factors—Our business, and that of our tenants, is subject to laws, regulations and administrative and judicial decisions, and changes thereto, that could restrict our ability to operate our business as we currently do or impact our competitive landscape.”
High operating margins. Incremental operating costs associated with adding new tenants or equipment to an existing communications site are relatively minimal. Therefore, as tenants or equipment are added, the substantial majority of incremental revenue flows through to gross margin and operating profit. In addition, in many of our international markets certain expenses, such as ground rent or power and fuel costs, are reimbursed or shared by our tenant base.
Low maintenance capital expenditures. On average, we require relatively low amounts of annual capital expenditures to maintain our communications sites.
Our property business includes the operation of communications sites and managed networks, the leasing of property interests, and, in select markets, the operation of fiber and the provision of backup power through shared generators. Our presence in a number of markets at different relative stages of wireless development provides us with significant diversification and long-term growth potential. Our property segments accounted for the following percentage of consolidated total revenue
for the years ended December 31,:
Communications Sites. Approximately 95%, 96% and 97% of revenue in our property segments was attributable to our communications sites, excluding DAS networks, for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.
We lease space on our communications sites to tenants providing a diverse range of communications services, including cellular voice and data, broadcasting, mobile video and a number of other applications. In addition, in many of our international markets, we receive pass-through revenue from our tenants to cover certain costs, including power and fuel costs and ground rent. Our top tenants by revenue for each region are as follows for the year ended December 31, 2019:
U.S.: AT&T Inc. (“AT&T”); Verizon Wireless; T-Mobile US, Inc. (“T-Mobile”); and Sprint Corporation (“Sprint”) accounted for an aggregate of 89% of U.S. property segment revenue. T-Mobile and Sprint have announced plans to merge in 2020.
Asia: Vodafone Idea Limited; Bharti Airtel Limited (“Airtel”); and Reliance Jio accounted for an aggregate of 83% of Asia property segment revenue.
Africa: MTN Group Limited (“MTN”); and Airtel accounted for an aggregate of 74% of Africa property segment revenue.
Europe: Telefónica S.A (“Telefónica”); Bouygues; and Free accounted for an aggregate of 70% of Europe property segment revenue.
Latin America: Telefónica; AT&T; and América Móvil accounted for an aggregate of 58% of Latin America property segment revenue.
Accordingly, we are subject to certain risks, as set forth in Item 1A of this Annual Report under the caption “Risk Factors—A substantial portion of our revenue is derived from a small number of tenants, and we are sensitive to changes in the creditworthiness and financial strength of our tenants.” In addition, we are subject to risks related to our international operations, as set forth under the caption “Risk Factors—Our foreign operations are subject to economic, political and other risks that could materially and adversely affect our revenues or financial position, including risks associated with fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates.”
Managed Networks, Property Interests, Fiber and Shared Generators. In addition to our communications sites, we also own and operate several types of managed network solutions, provide communications site management services to third parties, manage and lease property interests under carrier or other third-party communications sites, provide the right to use fiber and provide back-up power sources to tenants at our sites. The balance of our property segment revenue not attributable to our communications sites was attributable to these items.
Managed Networks. We own and operate DAS networks in the United States and certain international markets. We obtain rights from property owners to install and operate in-building DAS networks, and we grant rights to wireless service providers to attach their equipment to our installations. We also offer a small portfolio of outdoor DAS networks as a complementary shared infrastructure solution for our tenants in the United States and in certain international markets. Typically, we have designed, built and operated our outdoor DAS networks in areas in which zoning restrictions or other barriers may prevent or delay deployment of more traditional wireless communications sites, such as macro tower sites. We also hold lease rights and easement interests on rooftops capable of hosting communications equipment in locations where towers are generally not a viable solution based on area characteristics. In addition, we provide management services to property owners in the United States who elect to retain full rights to their property while simultaneously marketing the rooftop for wireless communications equipment installation. As the demand for advanced wireless services in urban markets evolves, we continue to evaluate a variety of infrastructure solutions, including small cells and other network architectures that may support our tenants’ networks in these areas.
Fiber and Related Assets. We own and operate fiber and related assets in Argentina, Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa and the United States, which we currently provide the right to use to communications and internet service providers and third-party operators to support their telecommunications infrastructure. We expect to continue to
evaluate opportunities to invest in and provide the right to use these and other similar assets to providers and operators in the future for additional fourth generation (4G) and fifth generation (5G) deployments.
Property Interests. We own a portfolio of property interests in the United States under carrier or other third-party communications sites, which provides recurring cash flow under complementary leasing arrangements.
Shared Generators. We have contracts with certain of our tenants in the United States pursuant to which we provide access to shared backup power generators.
We offer tower-related services in the United States, including site acquisition, zoning and permitting and structural analysis services. Our services operations primarily support our site leasing business, including through the addition of new tenants and equipment on our sites. This segment accounted for 2%, 2% and 1% of our total revenue for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Site Acquisition, Zoning and Permitting. We engage in site acquisition services on our own behalf in connection with our tower development projects, as well as on behalf of our tenants. We typically work with our tenants’ engineers to determine the geographic areas where new communications sites will best address the tenants’ needs and meet their coverage objectives. Once a new site is identified, we acquire the rights to the land or structure on which the site will be constructed, and we manage the permitting process to ensure all necessary approvals are obtained to construct and operate the communications site.
Structural Analysis. We offer structural analysis services to wireless carriers in connection with the installation of their communications equipment on our towers. Our team of engineers can evaluate whether a tower structure can support the additional burden of the new equipment or if an upgrade is needed, which enables our tenants to better assess potential sites before making an installation decision. Our structural analysis capabilities enable us to provide higher quality service to our existing tenants by, among other things, reducing the time required to achieve on-air readiness, while also providing opportunities to offer structural analysis services to third parties.
As the use of wireless services on handsets, tablets and other advanced mobile devices grows and evolves, there is a corresponding increase in demand for the communications infrastructure required to deploy current and future generations of wireless communications technologies. To capture this demand, our primary operational focus is to (i) increase the occupancy of our existing communications real estate portfolio to support global connectivity, (ii) invest in and selectively grow our communications real estate portfolio, (iii) further improve our operational performance and efficiency, including through innovation initiatives and (iv) maintain a strong balance sheet. We believe these efforts to meet our tenants’ needs will support and enhance our ability to capitalize on the growth in demand for wireless infrastructure. In addition, we expect to explore new opportunities to enhance or extend our shared communications infrastructure businesses, including those that may make our assets incrementally more attractive to new tenants, or to existing tenants for new uses, and those that increase our operational efficiency.
Increase the occupancy of our existing communications real estate portfolio to support global connectivity. We believe that our highest incremental returns will be achieved by leasing additional space on our existing communications sites. Increasing demand for wireless services in our served markets has resulted in significant capital spending by major wireless carriers and other connectivity providers. As a result, we anticipate growing demand for our communications sites because they are attractively located and typically have capacity available for additional tenants and equipment. In the United States, incremental carrier network activity is being driven primarily by the construction and densification of 4G networks, as well as initial deployments of 5G. In our international markets, carriers are deploying a combination of second generation (2G), third generation (3G) and, more recently, 4G networks, depending on the specific market. We believe that the majority of our towers have capacity for additional tenants and that substantially all of our towers that are currently at or near full structural capacity can be upgraded or augmented to meet future tenant demand with relatively modest capital investment. Therefore, we will continue to target our sales and marketing activities to increase the utilization and return on investment of our existing communications sites.
Invest in and selectively grow our communications real estate portfolio to meet our tenants’ needs. We seek opportunities to invest in and grow our operations through our capital expenditure program, new site construction and acquisitions. We believe we can achieve attractive risk-adjusted returns by pursuing such investments. In addition, we seek to secure property interests under our communications sites to improve operating margins as we reduce our cash operating expense related to ground leases. A significant portion of our inorganic growth has been focused on
properties with lower initial tenancy because we believe that over time we can significantly increase tenancy levels, and therefore, drive strong returns on those assets.
Further improve our operational performance and efficiency, including through innovation initiatives. We continue to seek opportunities to improve our operational performance throughout the organization. This includes investing in our systems and people as we strive to improve efficiency and provide superior service to our tenants. To achieve this, we intend to continue to focus on customer service initiatives, such as reducing cycle times for key functions, including lease processing and tower structural analysis. Through our innovation program, we are also focused on developing and implementing renewable power solutions across our footprint to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and help improve the overall efficiency of the communications infrastructure and wireless industries. We also expect to use our innovation program to explore additional ways to enhance the efficiency of our operations over time.
Maintain a strong balance sheet. We remain committed to disciplined financial policies, which we believe result in our ability to maintain a strong balance sheet and will support our overall strategy and focus on asset growth and operational excellence. As a result of these policies, we currently have investment grade credit ratings. We continue to focus on maintaining a robust liquidity position and, as of December 31, 2019, had $4.4 billion of available liquidity. We believe that our investment grade credit ratings provide us consistent access to the capital markets and our liquidity provides us the ability to continue to invest in growing and augmenting our business.
Capital Allocation Strategy
The objective of our capital allocation strategy is to simultaneously increase adjusted funds from operations and our return on invested capital over the long term. To maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT, we are required annually to distribute an amount equal to at least 90% of our REIT taxable income (determined before the deduction for distributed earnings and excluding any net capital gain) to our stockholders. After complying with our REIT distribution requirements, we plan to continue to allocate our available capital among investment alternatives that meet or exceed our return on investment criteria, while taking into account the repayment of debt consistent with our financial policies.
Capital expenditure program. We expect to continue to invest in and expand our existing communications real estate portfolio through our capital expenditure program. This includes capital expenditures associated with site maintenance, increasing the capacity of our existing sites and projects such as new site construction, land interest acquisitions and power solutions.
Acquisitions. We intend to pursue acquisitions of communications sites and other telecommunications infrastructure in our existing or new markets where we can meet or exceed our risk-adjusted return on investment criteria. The risk-adjusted hurdle rates used to evaluate acquisition opportunities consider additional factors such as the country and counterparties involved, investment and economic climate, legal and regulatory conditions and industry risk, among others.
Return excess capital to stockholders. If we have excess capital available after funding (i) our required distributions, (ii) capital expenditures, (iii) the repayment of debt consistent with our financial policies and (iv) anticipated future investments, including acquisition and select innovation opportunities, we will seek to return such excess capital to stockholders, including through our stock repurchase programs.
International Growth Strategy
We believe that, in certain international markets, we can create substantial value by either establishing a new, or expanding our existing, communications real estate leasing business. Therefore, we expect we will continue to seek international growth opportunities where we believe our risk-adjusted return objectives can be achieved. We strive to maintain a diversified approach to our international growth strategy by operating in a geographically diverse array of markets in a variety of stages of wireless network development. Our international growth strategy includes a disciplined, individualized market evaluation, in which we conduct the following analyses, among others:
Country analysis. Prior to entering a new market, we conduct an extensive review of the country’s historical and projected macroeconomic fundamentals, including inflation and foreign currency exchange rate trends, demographics, capital markets, tax regime and investment alternatives, and the general business, political and legal environments, including property rights and regulatory regime.
Wireless industry analysis. To confirm the presence of sufficient demand to support an independent tower leasing model, we analyze the competitiveness of the country’s wireless market. This includes an evaluation of the industry’s pricing environment, past and potential consolidation and the stage of its wireless network development. Characteristics that result in an attractive investment opportunity include (i) multiple competitive wireless service providers who are actively seeking to invest in deploying voice and data networks and (ii) ongoing or expected deployment of incremental spectrum from recent or anticipated auctions.
Opportunity and counterparty analysis. Once an investment opportunity is identified within a geographic area with an attractive wireless industry, we conduct a multifaceted opportunity and counterparty analysis. This includes evaluating (i) the type of transaction, (ii) its ability to meet our risk-adjusted return criteria given the country and the counterparties involved, including the anticipated anchor tenant and (iii) how the transaction fits within our long-term strategic objectives, including future potential investment and expansion within the region.
Towers, Antennas and Fiber. Our U.S. and international tower leasing businesses are subject to national, state and local regulatory requirements with respect to the registration, siting, construction, lighting, marking and maintenance of our towers. In the United States, which accounted for 56% of our total property segment revenue for the year ended December 31, 2019, the construction of new towers or modifications to existing towers may require pre-approval by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) and the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), depending on factors such as tower height and proximity to public airfields. Towers requiring pre-approval must be registered with the FCC and maintained in accordance with FAA standards. Similar requirements regarding pre-approval of the construction and modification of towers are imposed by regulators in other countries. Non-compliance with applicable tower-related requirements may lead to monetary penalties or site deconstruction orders.
Certain of our international operations are subject to regulatory requirements with respect to licensing, registration, permitting and public listings. In India, our subsidiary, ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited (“ATC TIPL”), holds an Infrastructure Provider Category-I (“IP-I”) Registration Certificate issued by the Indian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, which permits us to provide tower space to companies licensed as telecommunications service providers under the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885. As a condition to the IP-I, the Indian government has the right to take over telecommunications infrastructure in the case of emergency or war. Additionally, in 2018, ATC TIPL issued non-convertible debentures, which are listed on the National Stock Exchange of India. Although the debt is held by another subsidiary of ours and is eliminated in consolidation, ATC TIPL is still subject to the listing requirements of such exchange.
In Africa, our subsidiaries in Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Uganda are required to hold a license in order to establish and maintain passive telecommunications infrastructure services and DAS networks for communications service providers. In Burkina Faso, a new licensing regime was recently enacted which will require any subsidiary there to be licensed in 2020. Additionally, in Uganda, our subsidiary is subject to review for three years commencing in 2020 by a monitoring trustee regarding compliance with certain conditions of approval of the Eaton Towers Acquisition.
In Latin America, our subsidiaries in Chile and Argentina hold licenses for the provision of passive telecommunications infrastructure and, in Argentina, for leasing of fiber. The subsidiaries that hold our fiber business in Mexico and Brazil are also licensed and regulated as concession holders and permit holders authorized to provide telecommunications services. In many of the markets in which we operate, we are required to provide tower space to service providers on a non-discriminatory basis, subject to the negotiation of mutually agreeable terms.
Our international business operations may be subject to increased licensing fees or ownership restrictions. For example, in South Africa, the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, 2003 (the “BBBEE Act”) has established a legislative framework for the promotion of economic empowerment of South African citizens disadvantaged by Apartheid. Accordingly, the BBBEE Act and related codes measure BBBEE Act compliance and good corporate practice by the inclusion of certain ownership, management control, employment equity and other metrics for companies that do business there. In Kenya, our regulator requires all holders of a commercial license to issue at least 20% of their shares to Kenyans within three years of receiving the license unless a waiver is obtained. In addition, certain municipalities have sought to impose permit fees based upon structural or operational requirements of towers and certain regional and other governmental bodies have sought to impose levies or other forms of fees. Our foreign operations may be affected if a country’s regulatory authority restricts, revokes or modifies spectrum licenses of certain wireless service providers or implements limitations on foreign ownership.
In all countries where we operate, we are subject to zoning restrictions and restrictive covenants imposed by local authorities or community organizations. While these regulations vary, they typically require tower owners or tenants to obtain approval from local authorities or community standards organizations prior to tower construction or the addition of a new antenna to an existing tower. Local zoning authorities and community residents often oppose construction in their communities, which can delay or prevent new tower construction, new antenna installation or site upgrade projects, thereby limiting our ability to respond to tenant demand. This opposition and existing or new zoning regulations can increase costs associated with new tower construction, tower modifications or additions of new antennas to a site or site upgrades, as well as adversely affect the associated timing or cost of such projects. Further, additional regulations may be adopted that cause delays or result in additional costs to us or changes in the competitive landscape that may negatively affect our business. These factors could materially and adversely affect our operations. In the United States, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibits any action
by state and local authorities that would discriminate between different providers of wireless services or ban altogether the construction, modification or placement of communications sites. It also prohibits state or local restrictions based on the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent the facilities comply with FCC regulations. Further, in February 2012, the United States government adopted regulations requiring that local and state governments approve modifications or colocations that qualify as eligible facilities under the regulations.
Portions of our business are subject to additional regulations, for example, in a number of states throughout the United States, certain of our subsidiaries hold Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) or other status, in connection with the operation of our outdoor DAS networks business. In addition, we, or our tenants, may be subject to new regulatory policies in certain jurisdictions from time to time that may materially and adversely affect our business or the demand for our communications sites.
Environmental Matters. Our U.S. and international operations are subject to various national, state and local environmental laws and regulations, including those relating to the management, use, storage, disposal, emission and remediation of, and exposure to, hazardous and non-hazardous substances, materials and wastes and the siting of our towers. We may be required to obtain permits, pay additional property taxes, comply with regulatory requirements and make certain informational filings related to hazardous substances or devices used to provide power such as batteries, generators and fuel at our sites. Violations of these types of regulations could subject us to fines or criminal sanctions.
Additionally, in the United States and in other countries where we operate, before constructing a new tower or adding an antenna to an existing site, we must review and evaluate the impact of the action to determine whether it may significantly affect the environment and whether we must disclose any significant impacts in an environmental assessment. If a tower or new antenna might have a material adverse impact on the environment, FCC or other governmental approval of the tower or antenna could be significantly delayed.
Health and Safety. In the United States and in other countries where we operate, we are subject to various national, state and local laws regarding employee health and safety, including protection from radio frequency exposure.
Our industry is highly competitive. We compete, both for new business and for the acquisition of assets, with other public tower companies, such as Crown Castle International Corp., SBA Communications Corporation, Telesites S.A.B. de C.V. and Cellnex Telecom, S.A., wireless carrier tower consortia such as Indus Towers Limited and private tower companies, private equity sponsored firms, carrier-affiliated tower companies, independent wireless carriers, tower owners, broadcasters and owners of non-communications sites, including rooftops, utility towers, water towers and other alternative structures. We believe that site location and capacity, network density, price, quality and speed of service have been, and will continue to be, significant competitive factors affecting owners, operators and managers of communications sites.
Our services business competes with a variety of companies offering individual, or combinations of, competing services. The field of competitors includes site acquisition consultants, zoning consultants, real estate firms, right-of-way consultants, structural engineering firms, tower owners/managers, telecommunications equipment vendors who can provide turnkey site development services through multiple subcontractors and our tenants’ personnel. We believe that our tenants base their decisions for services on various criteria, including a company’s experience, local reputation, price and time for completion of a project.
For more information on demand trends in our industry, see Item 7 of this Annual Report under the caption “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Executive Overview.”
As of December 31, 2019, we employed 5,454 full-time individuals and consider our employee relations to be satisfactory.
For information about our Executive Officers, see Item 10 of this Annual Report under the caption “Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance.”
Our internet website address is www.americantower.com. Information contained on our website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report, and you should not consider information contained on our website as part of this Annual Report. You may access, free of charge, our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K, plus amendments to such reports as filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”), through the “Investor Relations” portion of our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).
We have adopted a written Code of Ethics and Business Conduct Policy (the “Code of Conduct”) that applies to all of our employees and directors, including, but not limited to, our principal executive officer, principal financial officer and principal accounting officer or controller or persons performing similar functions. The Code of Conduct is available on the “Corporate Responsibility” portion of our website and our Corporate Governance Guidelines and the charters of the audit, compensation and nominating and corporate governance committees of our Board of Directors are available on the “Investor Relations” portion of our website. In the event we amend the Code of Conduct, or provide any waivers of the Code of Conduct to our directors or executive officers, we will disclose these events on our website as required by the regulations of the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and applicable law.
In addition, paper copies of these documents may be obtained free of charge by writing us at the following address: 116 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02116, Attention: Investor Relations; or by calling us at (617) 375-7500.
A significant decrease in leasing demand for our communications infrastructure would materially and adversely affect our business and operating results, and we cannot control that demand.
A significant reduction in leasing demand for our communications infrastructure would materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition. Factors that may affect such demand include:
increased mergers, consolidations or exits that reduce the number of wireless service providers or increased use of network sharing among governments or wireless service providers;
the financial condition of wireless service providers;
zoning, environmental, health, tax or other government regulations or changes in the application and enforcement thereof;
governmental licensing of spectrum or restriction or revocation of our tenants’ spectrum licenses;
a decrease in consumer demand for wireless services, including due to general economic conditions, disruption in the financial and credit markets or global social or political crises;
the ability and willingness of wireless service providers to maintain or increase capital expenditures on network infrastructure;
delays or changes in the deployment of next generation wireless technologies; and
If our tenants consolidate their operations, exit the telecommunications business or share site infrastructure to a significant degree, our growth, revenue and ability to generate positive cash flows could be materially and adversely affected.
Significant consolidation among our tenants could reduce demand for our communications infrastructure and may materially and adversely affect our growth and revenues. Certain combined companies have rationalized duplicative parts of their networks or modernized their networks, and these and other tenants could determine not to renew, or attempt to cancel, avoid or limit leases or related payments with us. In the event a tenant terminates its business or separately sells its spectrum, we may experience increased churn as a result. Our ongoing contractual revenues and our future results may be negatively impacted if a significant number of these leases are terminated or not renewed. For example, see our discussion of carrier consolidation-driven churn in our Asia segment in Item 7 of this Annual Report, under the caption “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Executive Overview.” In addition, extensive sharing of site
infrastructure, roaming or resale arrangements among wireless service providers as an alternative to leasing our communications sites, without compensation to us, may cause new lease activity to slow if carriers utilize shared equipment rather than deploy new equipment, or may result in the decommissioning of equipment on certain existing sites because portions of the tenants’ networks may become redundant.
A substantial portion of our revenue is derived from a small number of tenants, and we are sensitive to adverse changes in the creditworthiness and financial strength of our tenants.
A substantial portion of our total operating revenues is derived from a small number of tenants. If any of these tenants are unwilling or unable to perform their obligations under their agreements with us, our revenues, results of operations, financial condition and liquidity could be materially and adversely affected.
One or more of our tenants, or their parent companies, may experience financial difficulties, file for bankruptcy or reduce or terminate operations as a result of a prolonged economic downturn, economic difficulties (including those from the imposition of taxes, fees, regulations or judicial interpretations of regulations, and any associated penalties or interest, which may be substantial, such as those imposed in India as a result of the October 2019 Indian Supreme Court ruling regarding the definition of adjusted gross revenue (“AGR”) and associated fees and charges), or otherwise. Such financial difficulties could result in uncollectible accounts receivable and an impairment of our deferred rent asset, tower asset, network location intangible asset, tenant-related intangible asset or goodwill. The loss of significant tenants, or the loss of all or a portion of our anticipated lease revenues from certain tenants, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.
Due to the long-term nature of our tenant leases, we depend on the continued financial strength of our tenants. Many wireless service providers operate with substantial levels of debt. In our international operations, many of our tenants are subsidiaries of global telecommunications companies. These subsidiaries may not have the explicit or implied financial support of their parent entities.
In addition, many of our tenants and potential tenants rely on capital raising activities to fund their operations and capital expenditures, which may be more difficult or expensive in the event of downturns in the economy or disruptions in the financial and credit markets. If our tenants or potential tenants are unable to raise adequate capital to fund their business plans or face capital constraints, they may reduce their spending, file for bankruptcy or reduce or terminate operations, which could materially and adversely affect demand for our communications sites and our services business.
In the ordinary course of our business, we do occasionally experience disputes with our tenants, generally regarding the interpretation of terms in our leases. Historically, we have resolved these disputes in a manner that did not have a material adverse effect on us or our tenant relationships. However, it is possible that such disputes could lead to a termination of our leases with those tenants, a material adverse modification of the terms of those leases or a deterioration in our relationships with those tenants that leads to a failure to obtain new business from them, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition. If we are forced to resolve any of these disputes through litigation, our relationship with the applicable tenant could be terminated or damaged, which could lead to decreased revenue or increased costs, resulting in a corresponding adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.
Our business, and that of our tenants, is subject to laws, regulations and administrative and judicial decisions, and changes thereto, that could restrict our ability to operate our business as we currently do or impact our competitive landscape.
Our business, and that of our tenants, is subject to federal, state, local and foreign laws, treaties and regulations and administrative and judicial decisions. In certain jurisdictions, these regulations, laws and treaties could be applied or be enforced retroactively. Zoning authorities and community organizations are often opposed to the construction of communications sites in their communities, which can delay, prevent or increase the cost of new tower construction, modifications, additions of new antennas to a site or site upgrades, thereby limiting our ability to respond to tenant demands. Existing or new regulatory policies, regulations or laws may materially and adversely affect the timing, cost or completion of our communications sites or result in changes in the competitive landscape that may negatively affect our business. Noncompliance could result in the imposition of fines or an award of damages to litigants or result in decreased revenue. In addition, in certain jurisdictions, we and certain of our tenants are required to pay annual license fees, which may be subject to substantial increases by the government, or new fees may be enacted and applied retroactively. Governmental licenses may also be subject to periodic renewal and additional conditions to receive or maintain such license.
Furthermore, the tax laws, regulations, applicable license terms and conditions, and interpretations governing our business, and that of our tenants, in jurisdictions where we operate may change at any time, potentially with retroactive effect. This includes changes in tax laws, spectrum use terms, administrative compliance guidance or judicial interpretations thereof. For example, the October 2019 Indian Supreme Court ruling regarding the definition of AGR and associated fees and charges may have a material financial impact on certain of our tenants which could affect their ability to perform their obligations
under agreements with us. Changes in laws, regulations and judicial decisions could have a more significant impact on us as a REIT relative to other REITs due to the nature of our business and our use of TRSs. These factors could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition.
Increasing competition within our industry may materially and adversely affect our revenue.
Our industry is highly competitive and our tenants have numerous alternatives in leasing antenna space. Competition due to pricing or alternative contractual arrangements from peers could materially and adversely affect our lease rates. We may not be able to renew existing tenant leases or enter into new tenant leases, or if we are able to renew or enter into new leases, they may be at rates lower than our current rates or on less favorable terms than our current terms, resulting in an adverse impact on our results of operations and growth rate. In addition, should inflation rates exceed our fixed escalator percentages in markets where our leases include fixed escalators, our returns could be adversely affected.
Our foreign operations are subject to economic, political and other risks that could materially and adversely affect our revenues or financial position, including risks associated with fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates.
Our international business operations and our potential expansion into additional new markets in the future expose us to potential adverse financial and operational problems not typically experienced in the United States. We anticipate that revenues from our international operations will continue to grow. Accordingly, our business is subject to risks associated with doing business internationally, including:
uncertain, inconsistent or changing laws, regulations, rulings or methodologies impacting our existing and anticipated international operations, fees or other requirements directed specifically at the ownership and operation of communications sites or our international acquisitions, any of which laws, fees or requirements may be applied retroactively or with significant delay;
failure to retain our tax status or to obtain an expected tax status for which we have applied;
expropriation or governmental regulation restricting foreign ownership or requiring reversion or divestiture;
laws or regulations that tax or otherwise restrict repatriation of earnings or other funds or otherwise limit distributions of capital;
changes in a specific country’s or region’s political or economic conditions, including inflation or currency devaluation;
changes to zoning regulations or construction laws, which could be applied retroactively to our existing communications sites;
actions restricting or revoking our tenants’ spectrum licenses, or alterations or interpretations thereof, or suspending or terminating business under prior licenses;
failure to comply with anti-bribery laws such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or similar local anti-bribery laws, or the Office of Foreign Assets Control requirements;
failure to comply with data privacy laws or other protections of employee health and personal information;
material site issues related to security, fuel availability and reliability of electrical grids;
significant increases in, or implementation of new, license surcharges on our revenue;
loss of key personnel, including expatriates, in markets where talent is difficult or expensive to acquire; and
price-setting or other similar laws or regulations for the sharing of passive infrastructure.
We also face risks associated with changes in foreign currency exchange rates, including those arising from our operations, investments and financing transactions related to our international business. Volatility in foreign currency exchange rates can also affect our ability to plan, forecast and budget for our international operations and expansion efforts. Our revenues earned from our international operations are primarily denominated in their respective local currencies. We have not historically engaged in significant currency hedging activities relating to our non-U.S. Dollar operations, and a weakening of these foreign currencies against the U.S. Dollar would negatively impact our reported revenues, operating profits and income.
In addition, as we continue to invest in joint venture opportunities internationally, our partners may have business or economic goals that are inconsistent or conflict with ours, be in positions to take action contrary to our interests, policies or objectives, have competing interests in our, or other, markets that could create conflict of interest issues, withhold consents contrary to our requests or become unable or unwilling to fulfill their commitments, any of which could expose us to additional liabilities or costs, including requiring us to assume and fulfill the obligations of that joint venture or to execute buyouts of their interests.
Our expansion and innovation initiatives involve a number of risks and uncertainties, including those related to integrating acquired or leased assets, that could adversely affect our operating results, disrupt our operations or expose us to additional risk.
As we continue to acquire and build communications sites and other communications infrastructure assets in our existing markets and expand into new markets, we are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including not meeting our return on investment criteria and financial objectives, increased costs, assumed liabilities and the diversion of managerial attention. Achieving the benefits of acquisition and innovation activities depends in part on timely and efficient integration of operations, telecommunications infrastructure assets and personnel. Integration may be difficult and unpredictable for many reasons, including, among other things, portfolios without requisite permits, differing systems, cultural differences, conflicting policies, procedures and operations. Significant acquisition-related integration costs, including certain nonrecurring charges such as costs associated with onboarding employees, integrating information technology systems, acquiring permits and visiting, inspecting, engineering and upgrading tower sites or related communications infrastructure assets, could materially and adversely affect our results of operations in the period in which such charges are recorded or our cash flow in the period in which any related costs are actually paid. Some of our acquired tower portfolios have included sites that do not meet our structural specifications, including sites that may be overburdened. In these cases, in addition to additional capital expenditures, general liability risks associated with such towers will exist until such time as those towers are upgraded or otherwise remedied. In addition, integration may significantly burden management and internal resources, including through the potential loss or unavailability of key personnel. If we fail to successfully integrate the assets we acquire or fail to utilize such assets to their full capacity, we may not realize the benefits we expect from our acquired portfolios, and our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected. Our international expansion initiatives are subject to additional risks such as those described above.
As a result of acquisitions, we have a substantial amount of intangible assets and goodwill. In accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”), we are required to assess our goodwill and other intangible assets annually or more frequently in the event of circumstances indicating potential impairment to determine if they are impaired. If, as a result of the factors noted above, the testing performed indicates that an asset may not be recoverable, we are required to record a non-cash impairment charge for the difference between the carrying value of the goodwill or other intangible assets and the implied fair value of the goodwill or the estimated fair value of other intangible assets in the period the determination is made.
Our expansion and innovation initiatives may not be successful, or we may be required to record impairment charges for our goodwill or for other intangible assets, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.
New technologies or changes in our or a tenant’s business model could make our tower leasing business less desirable and result in decreasing revenues and operating results.
The development and implementation of new technologies designed to enhance the efficiency of wireless networks or changes in a tenant’s business model could reduce the need for tower-based wireless services, decrease demand for tower space or reduce previously obtainable lease rates. In addition, if the industry trends toward deploying increased capital to the development and implementation of new technologies, then tenants may allocate less of their budgets to leasing space on our towers. Examples of these technologies include more spectrally efficient technologies, which could relieve a portion of our tenants’ network capacity needs and, as a result, could reduce the demand for tower-based antenna space. Additionally, certain small cell complementary network technologies or satellite services could shift a portion of our tenants’ network investments away from traditional tower-based networks, which may reduce the need for carriers to add more equipment at certain communications sites. Moreover, the emergence of alternative technologies could reduce the need for tower-based broadcast services transmission and reception. Further, a tenant may decide to cease outsourcing tower infrastructure or otherwise change its business model, which would result in a decrease in our revenue and operating results. Our failure to innovate in response to the development and implementation of these or other new technologies or changes in a tenant’s business model could have a material adverse effect on the growth of our business, results of operations or financial condition. Conversely, we may invest significant capital in technologies, innovation projects or new additions to our core business that may not provide expected returns or profitability, which could divert management attention and have a material adverse effect on our operating results.
Competition for assets could adversely affect our ability to achieve our return on investment criteria.
We may experience increased competition for the acquisition of assets or contracts to build new communications sites for tenants, which could make the acquisition of high-quality assets significantly more costly or prohibitive or cause us to lose contracts to build new sites. Some of our competitors are larger and may have greater financial resources than we do, while other competitors may apply less stringent investment criteria than we do. In addition, we may not anticipate increased competition entering a particular market or competing for the same assets. Higher prices for assets or the failure to add new assets to our portfolio could make it more difficult to achieve our anticipated returns on investment or future growth, which could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition.
Our leverage and debt service obligations may materially and adversely affect our ability to raise additional financing to fund capital expenditures, future growth and expansion initiatives and to satisfy our distribution requirements.
Our leverage and debt service obligations could have significant negative consequences to our business, results of operations or financial condition, including:
requiring the dedication of a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to service our debt, thereby reducing the amount of our cash flow available for other purposes, including capital expenditures and REIT distributions;
impairing our ability to meet one or more of the financial ratio covenants contained in our debt agreements or to generate cash sufficient to pay interest or principal due under those agreements, which could result in an acceleration of some or all of our outstanding debt and the loss of the towers securing such debt if a default remains uncured;
limiting our ability to obtain additional debt or equity financing, thereby placing us at a possible competitive disadvantage to less leveraged competitors and competitors that may have better access to capital resources, including with respect to acquiring assets; and
limiting our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the markets in which we compete.
We may need to raise additional capital through debt financing activities, asset sales or equity issuances, even if the then-prevailing market conditions are not favorable, to fund capital expenditures, future growth and expansion initiatives, required purchases of our joint venture partners’ interests and to satisfy our distribution requirements and debt service obligations. An increase in our total leverage could lead to a downgrade of our credit rating below investment grade, which could negatively impact our ability to access credit markets or preclude us from obtaining funds on investment grade terms, rates and conditions or subject us to additional loan covenants, which could accelerate our debt repayment obligations. Further, certain of our current debt instruments limit the amount of indebtedness we and our subsidiaries may incur. Additional financing, therefore, may be unavailable, more expensive or restricted by the terms of our outstanding indebtedness.
We may be adversely affected by changes in LIBOR reporting practices, the method in which LIBOR is determined or the use of alternative reference rates.
In July 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”), which regulates the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”), announced plans to phase out LIBOR rates by the end of 2021. As contemplated, the continuation of LIBOR on the current basis cannot be assured after 2021, and LIBOR may cease to exist or otherwise be unsuitable for benchmarking. While our bank facilities contain fallback provisions to establish an alternative rate in the event LIBOR is unavailable, the elimination of LIBOR could have an adverse impact on our business, results of operations, or financial condition. Financial institutions may replace LIBOR with a new index calculated by short-term repurchase agreements, the Secured Overnight Financing Rate; however, no consensus exists as to what may become accepted alternatives to LIBOR, whether LIBOR rates will cease to be published or supported before or after 2021 or whether any additional reforms to LIBOR may be enacted in the United Kingdom or elsewhere. Furthermore, the use of an alternative rate could result in increased costs, including increased interest expense, and increased borrowing and hedging costs in the future. We cannot predict the effect of the FCA’s decision not to sustain LIBOR or, if changes ultimately are made to LIBOR, the effect those changes may have on our interest expense related to borrowings under our bank facilities, certain other debt service obligations and interest swap agreements, which could potentially negatively impact our financial condition.
If we fail to remain qualified for taxation as a REIT, we will be subject to tax at corporate income tax rates, which may substantially reduce funds otherwise available, and even if we qualify for taxation as a REIT, we may face tax liabilities that impact earnings and available cash flow.
Commencing with the taxable year beginning January 1, 2012, we have operated as a REIT for federal income tax purposes. Qualification for taxation as a REIT requires the application of certain highly technical and complex provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), which provisions may change from time to time, to our operations as well as various factual determinations concerning matters and circumstances not entirely within our control. Further, tax legislation may adversely affect our ability to remain qualified for taxation as a REIT or the benefits or desirability of remaining so qualified. There are few judicial or administrative interpretations of the relevant provisions of the Code.
If, in any taxable year, we fail to qualify for taxation as a REIT and are not entitled to relief under the Code:
we will not be allowed a deduction for distributions to stockholders and would be subject to federal and state income tax on our taxable income at regular corporate income tax rates, which could be substantial in amount, and may require us to borrow additional funds or liquidate some investments to pay any additional tax liability and, accordingly, may reduce funds available for other purposes; and
we will be disqualified from REIT tax treatment for the four taxable years immediately following the year during which we were so disqualified.
We are subject to certain federal, state, local and foreign taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income and state, local or foreign income, franchise, property and transfer taxes. While state and local income tax regimes often parallel the U.S. federal income tax regime for REITs, many of these jurisdictions differ in their treatment of REITs. For example, some state and local jurisdictions currently or in the future may limit or eliminate a REIT’s deduction for dividends paid, which could increase our income tax expense. We are also subject to the continual examination of our income tax returns by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and state, local and foreign tax authorities. The results of an audit and examination of previously filed tax returns and continuing assessments of our tax exposures may have an adverse effect on our provision for income taxes and cash tax liability.
Furthermore, we have owned and may from time to time own direct and indirect ownership interests in subsidiary REITs, which must also comply with the same REIT requirements that we must satisfy, together with all other rules applicable to REITs. If the subsidiary REIT is determined to have failed to qualify for taxation as a REIT and certain relief provisions do not apply, then the subsidiary REIT would be subject to federal income tax, which tax we would economically bear along with applicable penalties and interest. In addition, our ownership of shares in such subsidiary REIT would fail to be a qualifying asset for purposes of the asset tests applicable to REITs and any dividend income or gains derived by us from such subsidiary REIT may cease to be treated as income that qualifies for purposes of the 75% gross income test. These consequences could have a material adverse effect on our ability to comply with the REIT income and asset tests, and thus our ability to qualify for taxation as a REIT.
Complying with REIT requirements may limit our flexibility or cause us to forego otherwise attractive opportunities.
Our use of TRSs enables us to engage in non-REIT qualifying business activities. Under the Code, no more than 20% of the value of the assets of a REIT may be represented by securities of one or more TRSs and no more than 25% of the value of the assets of the REIT may be represented by non-qualifying assets (including securities of one or more TRSs). This limitation may hinder our ability to make certain attractive investments or take advantage of acquisition opportunities, including the purchase of non-qualifying assets, the expansion of non-real estate activities and investments in the businesses to be conducted by our TRSs, and to that extent limit our opportunities and our flexibility to change our business strategy.
Further, as a REIT, we must distribute to our stockholders an amount equal to at least 90% of our REIT taxable income (determined before the deduction for distributed earnings and excluding any net capital gain). To meet our annual distribution requirements, we may be required to distribute amounts that may otherwise be used for our operations, including amounts that may otherwise be invested in future acquisitions, capital expenditures or repayment of debt. As no more than 25% of our gross income may consist of dividend income from our TRSs and other non-qualifying types of income, our ability to receive distributions from our TRSs may be limited, which may impact our ability to fund distributions to our stockholders or to use income of our TRSs to fund other investments.
In addition, the majority of our income and cash flows from our TRSs are generated from our international operations. In many cases, there are local withholding taxes and currency controls that may impact our ability or willingness to repatriate funds to the United States to help satisfy REIT distribution requirements.
Our towers, fiber networks, data centers or computer systems may be affected by natural disasters, security breaches and other unforeseen events for which our insurance may not provide adequate coverage.
Our towers, fiber networks, data centers and computer systems are subject to risks associated with natural disasters, such as hurricanes, ice and wind storms, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and wildfires, as well as other unforeseen events, such as acts of terrorism. During the past several years, we have seen an increase in severe weather events and expect this trend to continue due to climate change. Climate change or efforts to regulate emissions may also have direct or indirect effects on our business by increasing the cost of emission compliance or fuel we need to deliver primary power to our tenants under our contractual obligations, typically through diesel-powered generators, in emerging markets. Further, any damage or destruction to, or inability to access, our towers, fiber networks, data centers or computer systems may impact our ability to provide services to our tenants and lead to tenant loss, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.
As part of our normal business activities and in our innovation or managed networks businesses, we rely on information technology and other computing resources. Our computer systems, network operation centers or power systems, or those of our cloud or Internet-based providers, could fail on their own accord and are subject to interruption or damage from power outages, computer and telecommunications failures, computer viruses, security breaches (including through cyber-attack and data theft), usage errors, catastrophic events such as natural disasters and other events beyond our control. Although we and our vendors have disaster recovery programs and security measures in place, if our computer systems and our backup systems are compromised, degraded, damaged, breached or otherwise cease to function properly, we could suffer interruptions in our
operations, including our ability to correctly record, process and report financial information, our tenants’ network availability may be impacted or we could unintentionally allow misappropriation of proprietary or confidential information (including information about our tenants or landlords, or tenant information on our innovation or managed networks businesses), which could result in a loss of revenue, damage our reputation, litigation, penalties under existing or future data privacy laws and require us to incur significant costs to remediate or otherwise resolve these issues. In addition, our recent acquisitions, including acquisitions of fiber businesses, may increase our exposure to the risks described above and have material and adverse effects on our business.
While we maintain insurance coverage for natural disasters, business interruption and cybersecurity, we may not have adequate insurance to cover the associated costs of repair or reconstruction of sites or fiber for a major future event, lost revenue, including from new tenants that could have been added to our towers, fiber networks or data centers but for the event, or other costs to remediate the impact of a significant event. Further, we may be liable for damage caused by towers that collapse for any number of reasons including structural deficiencies, which could harm our reputation and require us to incur costs for which we may not have adequate insurance coverage.
Restrictive covenants in the agreements related to our securitization transactions, our credit facilities and our debt securities could materially and adversely affect our business by limiting flexibility, and we may be prohibited from paying dividends on our common stock, which may jeopardize our qualification for taxation as a REIT.
The agreements related to our securitization transactions include operating covenants and other restrictions customary for loans subject to rated securitizations. Among other things, the borrowers under the agreements are prohibited from incurring other indebtedness for borrowed money or further encumbering their assets. A failure to comply with the covenants in the agreements could prevent the borrowers from taking certain actions with respect to the secured assets and could prevent the borrowers from distributing any excess cash from the operation of such assets to us. If the borrowers were to default on any of the loans, the servicer on such loan could seek to foreclose upon or otherwise convert the ownership of the secured assets, in which case we could lose such assets and the cash flow associated with such assets.
The agreements for our credit facilities also contain restrictive covenants and leverage and other financial maintenance tests that could limit our ability to take various actions, including incurring additional debt, guaranteeing indebtedness or making distributions to stockholders, including our required REIT distributions, and engaging in various types of transactions, including mergers, acquisitions and sales of assets. Additionally, our debt agreements restrict our and our subsidiaries’ ability to incur liens securing our or their indebtedness. These covenants could have an adverse effect on our business by limiting our ability to take advantage of financing, new tower development, mergers and acquisitions or other opportunities. Further, reporting and information covenants in our credit agreements and indentures require that we provide financial and operating information within certain time periods. If we are unable to provide the required information on a timely basis, we would be in breach of these covenants. For more information regarding the covenants and requirements discussed above, please see Item 7 of this Annual Report under the caption “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Factors Affecting Sources of Liquidity” and note 9 to our consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report.
We also enter into hedges for certain debt instruments, which may have an adverse impact on our results to the extent that the counterparties do not perform as expected at the inception of each hedge.
Our costs could increase and our revenues could decrease due to perceived health risks from radio emissions, especially if these perceived risks are substantiated.
Public perception of possible health risks associated with cellular and other wireless communications technology could slow the growth of wireless companies, which could in turn slow our growth. In particular, negative public perception of, and regulations regarding, these perceived health risks could undermine the market acceptance of wireless communications services and increase opposition to the development and expansion of tower sites. If a scientific study, court decision or government agency ruling resulted in a finding that radio frequency emissions pose health risks to consumers, it could negatively impact our tenants and the market for wireless services, which could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition. We do not maintain any significant insurance with respect to these matters.
We could have liability under environmental and occupational safety and health laws.
Our operations are subject to various federal, state, local and foreign environmental and occupational safety and health laws and regulations, including those relating to the management, use, storage, disposal, emission and remediation of, and exposure to, hazardous and non-hazardous substances, materials and wastes. As the owner, lessee or operator of real property and facilities, including generators, we may be liable for substantial costs of investigation, removal or remediation of soil and groundwater contaminated by hazardous materials, and for damages and costs relating to off-site migration of hazardous materials, without regard to whether we, as the owner, lessee or operator, knew of, or were responsible for, the contamination.
We may also be liable for certain costs of remediating contamination at third-party sites to which we sent waste for disposal, even if the original disposal may have complied with all legal requirements at the time. Many of these laws and regulations contain information reporting and record keeping requirements. We may not be at all times in compliance with all environmental requirements. We may be subject to potentially significant fines or penalties if we fail to comply with any of these requirements.
The requirements of the environmental and occupational safety and health laws and regulations are complex, change frequently and could become more stringent in the future. In certain jurisdictions these laws and regulations could be applied retroactively or be broadened to cover situations or persons not currently considered. It is possible that these requirements will change or that liabilities will arise in the future in a manner that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition. While we maintain environmental and workers’ compensation insurance, we may not have adequate insurance to cover all costs, fines or penalties.
If we are unable to protect our rights to the land under our towers, it could adversely affect our business and operating results.
Our real property interests relating to our towers consist primarily of leasehold and sub-leasehold interests, fee interests, easements, licenses and rights-of-way. A loss of these interests at a particular tower site may interfere with our ability to operate that tower site and generate revenues. For various reasons, we may not always have the ability to access, analyze and verify all information regarding titles and other issues prior to completing an acquisition of communications sites, which can affect our rights to access and operate a site. From time to time, we also experience disputes with landowners regarding the terms of easements or ground agreements for land under towers, which can affect our ability to access and operate tower sites. Further, for various reasons, landowners may not want to renew their ground agreements with us, they may lose their rights to the land, or they may transfer their land interests to third parties, including ground lease aggregators, which could affect our ability to renew ground agreements on commercially viable terms. A significant number of the communications sites in our portfolio are located on land we lease pursuant to long-term operating leases. Further, for various reasons, title to property interests in some of the foreign jurisdictions in which we operate may not be as certain as title to our property interests in the United States. Our inability to protect our rights to the land under our towers may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.
If we are unable or choose not to exercise our rights to purchase towers that are subject to lease and sublease agreements at the end of the applicable period, our cash flows derived from those towers will be eliminated.
Our communications real estate portfolio includes towers that we operate pursuant to lease and sublease agreements that include a purchase option at the end of the lease period. We may not have the required available capital to exercise our right to purchase the towers at the end of the applicable period, or we may choose, for business or other reasons, not to do so. If we do not exercise these purchase rights, and are unable to extend the lease or sublease or otherwise acquire an interest that would allow us to continue to operate these towers after the applicable period, we will lose the cash flows derived from the towers. If we decide to exercise these purchase rights, the benefits of acquiring a significant number of towers may not exceed the associated acquisition, compliance and integration costs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
As of December 31, 2019, we owned and operated a portfolio of 179,520 communications sites, including 1,774 DAS networks. See the table in Item 7 of this Annual Report, under the caption “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Executive Overview” for more detailed information on the geographic locations of our communications sites. In addition, we own property interests that we lease to communications service providers and third-party tower operators in the United States, which are included in our U.S. property segment.
Our interests in our communications sites consist of a variety of ownership interests, including leases created by long-term ground lease agreements, easements, licenses or rights-of-way granted by government entities.
A typical tower site consists of a compound enclosing the tower site, a tower structure and, in some cases, one or more equipment shelters that house a variety of transmitting, receiving and switching equipment. In addition, many of our international sites typically include power generators and batteries, which are often used for primary power in lieu of an electric grid connection in select markets. The principal types of our towers are guyed, self-supporting lattice and monopole, and rooftop towers in our international markets.
A guyed tower includes a series of cables attaching separate levels of the tower to anchor foundations in the ground and can reach heights of up to 2,000 feet. A typical guyed broadcast tower can be located a tract of land of up to 20 acres.
A self-supporting lattice tower typically tapers from the bottom up and usually has three or four legs. A lattice tower can reach heights of up to 1,000 feet, although most lattice structures are between 200 and 400 feet. Depending on the height of the tower, a lattice tower site can be located on a tract of land of 10,000 square feet for a rural site or fewer than 2,500 square feet for a metropolitan site.
A monopole tower is a tubular structure that is used primarily to address space constraints or aesthetic concerns. Monopoles typically have heights ranging from 50 to 200 feet. A monopole tower site used in metropolitan areas for a typical wireless communications tower can be located on a tract of land of fewer than 2,500 square feet.
Rooftop towers are primarily used in metropolitan areas in our Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America markets, where locations for traditional tower structures are unavailable. Rooftop towers typically have heights ranging from 10 to 100 feet.
U.S. Property Segment Encumbered Sites. As of December 31, 2019, the loan underlying the securitization transactions completed in March 2013 and March 2018 (the “2013 Securitization” and the “2018 Securitization”, respectively, and together, the “Trust Securitizations”) is secured by mortgages, deeds of trust and deeds to secure the loan on substantially all of the 5,114 broadcast and wireless communications towers and related assets owned by the borrowers (the “Trust Sites”) and the secured revenue notes issued in a private transaction completed in May 2015 (the “2015 Securitization”) are secured by mortgages, deeds of trust and deeds to secure debt on substantially all of the 3,542 communications sites owned by subsidiaries of the issuer (the “2015 Secured Sites”).
Asia Property Segment Encumbered Sites. There are no encumbered sites in our Asia property segment.
Africa Property Segment Encumbered Sites. Our outstanding indebtedness in South Africa is secured by an aggregate of 1,899 towers.
Europe Property Segment Encumbered Sites. There are no encumbered sites in our Europe property segment.
Latin America Property Segment Encumbered Sites. Our outstanding indebtedness in Brazil is secured by an aggregate of 760 towers and outstanding indebtedness in Colombia is secured by an aggregate of 3,563 towers.
Ground Leases. Of the 177,746 towers in our portfolio as of December 31, 2019, approximately 90% were located on land we lease. Typically, we seek to enter long-term ground leases, which have initial terms of approximately five to ten years with one or more automatic or exercisable renewal periods. As a result, 43% of the ground leases for our sites have a final expiration date of 2029 and beyond.
Tenants. Our tenants are primarily wireless service providers, broadcasters and other companies in a variety of industries. For the year ended December 31, 2019, our top four tenants by total revenue were AT&T (22%), Verizon Wireless (15%), T-Mobile (10%) and Sprint (8%). Across most of our markets, our tenant leases generally have initial non-cancellable terms of five to ten years with multiple renewal terms. As a result, approximately 65% of our current tenant leases have a renewal date of 2025 or beyond.
Offices. Our principal corporate headquarters is leased and located in Boston, Massachusetts, where we currently lease approximately 40,000 square feet of office space. We also own or have entered into long-term leases for the majority of our facilities in international and regional locations for the management and operation of our property and services businesses, including offices in each of our U.S., Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America segments. We believe that our owned and leased facilities are suitable and adequate to meet our anticipated needs.
We periodically become involved in various claims and lawsuits that are incidental to our business. In the opinion of management, after consultation with counsel, there are no matters currently pending that would, in the event of an adverse outcome, have a material impact on our consolidated financial position, results of operations or liquidity.
MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Our common stock is listed on the NYSE under the ticker symbol AMT. As of February 18, 2020, we had 442,911,804 outstanding shares of common stock and 151 registered holders.
As a REIT, we must annually distribute to our stockholders an amount equal to at least 90% of our REIT taxable income (determined before the deduction for distributed earnings and excluding any net capital gain). Generally, we have distributed and expect to continue to distribute all or substantially all of our REIT taxable income after taking into consideration our utilization of net operating losses (“NOLs”).
The amount, timing and frequency of future distributions will be at the sole discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend upon various factors, a number of which may be beyond our control, including our financial condition and operating cash flows, the amount required to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT and reduce any income and excise taxes that we otherwise would be required to pay, limitations on distributions in our existing and future debt and preferred equity instruments, our ability to utilize NOLs to offset our distribution requirements, limitations on our ability to fund distributions using cash generated through our TRSs and other factors that our Board of Directors may deem relevant.
This performance graph is furnished and shall not be deemed ‘‘filed’’ with the SEC or subject to Section 18 of the Exchange Act, nor shall it be deemed incorporated by reference in any of our filings under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.
The following graph compares the cumulative total stockholder return on our common stock with the cumulative total return of the S&P 500 Index, the Dow Jones U.S. Telecommunications Equipment Index and the FTSE Nareit All Equity REITs Index. The performance graph assumes that on December 31, 2014, $100 was invested in each of our common stock, the S&P 500 Index, the Dow Jones U.S. Telecommunications Equipment Index and the FTSE Nareit All Equity REITs Index. The cumulative return shown in the graph assumes reinvestment of all dividends. The performance of our common stock reflected below is not necessarily indicative of future performance.
Cumulative Total Returns
American Tower Corporation
S&P 500 Index
Dow Jones U.S. Telecommunications Equipment Index
FTSE Nareit All Equity REITs Index
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
In March 2011, our Board of Directors approved a stock repurchase program, pursuant to which we are authorized to repurchase up to $1.5 billion of our common stock (the “2011 Buyback”). In addition to the 2011 Buyback, in December 2017, our Board of Directors approved an additional stock repurchase program, pursuant to which we are authorized to repurchase up to $2.0 billion of our common stock (the “2017 Buyback”, and together with the 2011 Buyback the “Buyback Programs”).
During the three months ended December 31, 2019, we repurchased a total of 93,654 shares of our common stock for an aggregate of $19.6 million, including commissions and fees, pursuant to the 2011 Buyback. There were no repurchases under the 2017 Buyback. The table below sets forth details of our repurchases under the 2011 Buyback during the three months ended December 31, 2019.
Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)
Average Price Paid per Share (2)
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs
Approximate Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs (3)
October 1, 2019 - October 31, 2019
November 1, 2019 - November 30, 2019
December 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019
Total Fourth Quarter
Repurchases made pursuant to the 2011 Buyback.
Average price paid per share is a weighted average calculation using the aggregate price, excluding commissions and fees.
Remaining under the 2011 Buyback.
We have repurchased a total of 14.1 million shares of our common stock under the 2011 Buyback for an aggregate of $1.4 billion, including commissions and fees. We expect to continue to manage the pacing of the remaining $2.1 billion under the Buyback Programs in response to general market conditions and other relevant factors. We expect to fund any further repurchases of our common stock through a combination of cash on hand, cash generated by operations and borrowings under our credit facilities. Purchases under the Buyback Programs are subject to our having available cash to fund repurchases.
Under the Buyback Programs, our management is authorized to purchase shares from time to time through open market purchases or in privately negotiated transactions not to exceed market prices and subject to market conditions and other factors. With respect to open market purchases, we may use plans adopted in accordance with Rule 10b5-1 under the Exchange Act in accordance with securities laws and other legal requirements, which allows us to repurchase shares during periods when we otherwise might be prevented from doing so under insider trading laws or because of self-imposed trading blackout periods. These programs may be discontinued at any time.
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The selected financial data should be read in conjunction with our “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” and our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes to those consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report.
Year-over-year comparisons are significantly affected by our acquisitions, dispositions and construction of towers. Our transaction with Verizon Communications Inc. (“Verizon” and the transaction, the “Verizon Transaction”) and the acquisition of a controlling ownership interest in Viom Networks Limited (“Viom” and the acquisition, the “Viom Acquisition”), which closed in March 2015 and April 2016, respectively, significantly impact the comparability of reported results between periods. Our principal 2019 acquisitions are described in note 7 to our consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report.
Year Ended December 31,
(In millions, except share and per share data)
Statements of Operations Data:
Total operating revenues
Cost of operations (exclusive of items shown separately below)
Depreciation, amortization and accretion
Selling, general, administrative and development expense
Other operating expenses
Total operating expenses
Interest (expense) income, TV Azteca, net
(Loss) gain on retirement of long-term obligations
Other income (expense) (1)
Income from continuing operations before income taxes
Income tax benefit (provision)
Net (income) loss attributable to noncontrolling interests
Net income attributable to American Tower Corporation stockholders
Dividends on preferred stock
Net income attributable to American Tower Corporation common stockholders
Net income per common share amounts:
Basic net income attributable to American Tower Corporation common stockholders
Diluted net income attributable to American Tower Corporation common stockholders
Weighted average common shares outstanding (in thousands):
Distribution declared per common share
Distribution declared per preferred share, Series A
Distribution declared per preferred share, Series B
As of December 31,
Balance Sheet Data:
Cash and cash equivalents (including restricted cash) (2)
Property and equipment, net
Total assets (3)
Long-term obligations, including current portion
Redeemable noncontrolling interests
Total American Tower Corporation equity
For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, amounts include foreign currency gains (losses) of $6.1 million, ($4.5) million, $26.4 million, ($48.9) million and ($134.7) million, respectively.
As of December 31, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, amounts include $76.8 million, $96.2 million, $152.8 million, $149.3 million, and $142.2 million, respectively, of restricted funds pledged as collateral to secure obligations and cash, the use of which is otherwise limited by contractual provisions.
Total assets as of December 31, 2019 includes the Right-of-use asset recognized in connection with our adoption of the new lease accounting standard described in note 1 to our consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report
MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations that follow are based upon our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with GAAP. The preparation of our financial statements requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, revenues and expenses and the related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of our financial statements. Actual results may differ from these estimates and such differences could be material to the financial statements. This discussion should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report and the accompanying notes, and the information set forth under the caption “Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates” below.
During the fourth quarter of 2019, as a result of recent acquisitions, including the Eaton Towers Acquisition, and changes to our organizational structure, we reviewed and changed our reportable segments to divide our EMEA segment into two separate segments, Africa property and Europe property. We now report our results in six segments – U.S. property, Asia property, Africa property, Europe property, Latin America property and services. We believe this change provides more visibility into these operating segments and better aligns our reporting with management’s current approach of allocating costs and resources, managing growth and profitability and assessing the operating performance of our business segments. In evaluating financial performance in each business segment, management uses, among other factors, segment gross margin and segment operating profit (see note 21 to our consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report). The change in reportable segments has no impact on our consolidated financial statements for any periods. Historical financial information included in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations has been adjusted to reflect the change in reportable segments.
We are one of the largest global REITs and a leading independent owner, operator and developer of multitenant communications real estate. Our primary business is the leasing of space on communications sites to wireless service providers, radio and television broadcast companies, wireless data providers, government agencies and municipalities and tenants in a number of other industries. In addition to the communications sites in our portfolio, we manage rooftop and tower sites for property owners under various contractual arrangements. We also hold other telecommunications infrastructure, fiber and property interests that we lease primarily to communications service providers and third-party tower operators. We refer to this business as our property operations, which accounted for 98% of our total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2019 and includes our U.S. property, Asia property, Africa property, Europe property and Latin America property segments.
We also offer tower-related services in the United States, including site acquisition, zoning and permitting and structural analysis, which primarily support our site leasing business, including the addition of new tenants and equipment on our sites.
The following table details the number of communications sites, excluding managed sites, that we owned or operated as of December 31, 2019:
Owned DAS Sites
South Africa (2)