Predatory Truths and Opportunistic Selling

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During my time working on the consulting side of the business, I have been asked several times about why being independent matters with cellular lease negotiations. I have also been asked about the difference between companies and their intentions. I have been exposed to nearly every sales approach and tactic ever developed. I have also been introduced and have been courted by nearly every company in the acquisition/aggregation marketplace.

I can say with a great deal of confidence that every single group I have encountered has been professional, courteous, and also very well marketed and represented. This representation is a byproduct of highly sophisticated and skilled leaders, very hard working and endearing sales representatives. It also an indication of a robust operating budget.

These groups are making a lot of money.

This operating budget is generally funded by a marketplace that landowners are not able connect with, but there is also a significant portion of their budget that is generated by Opportunistic Selling.

Opportunistic Selling is not to dissimilar from the Predatory Selling which was a buzzword during the mortgage industry boom. If you do not recall that dark time in our country’s history, a mortgage sales rep would sell higher interest rates or less favorable terms to a landowner in order to generate higher yields and, thus, higher commission spreads.

I have known some reps who were making $500k-$1m dollars annually and many of them could not even explain to me the processes associated with their ascension to that level of income.

The reason that many people were extracting this much from an industry, that failed, was that the entire market was unregulated. Representatives were permitted to do what they needed to close business, and often the market was dictated by the representative’s ability to charge more for certain programs. Or even worse, committing fraud to help advance their bottom line:

https://www.fool.com/investing/2016/09/18/dissecting-wells-fargos-fraud.aspx

Our goal at Leasehold Finance Advisors LLC, is to help educate landowners in the types of Predatory Selling that have become the norm in cellular leasehold industry, so you can help avoid contributing to someone else’s wealth.

Here are some basic things you can look for, to help you know if the company that you are being approached by is aligned with your interests:

    1. Are they always showing you recent news stories about mergers or technological advances aimed to make you feel like your site could go away? – If you are dealing with any group that likes to share these stories, stop right where you are and run away. Another tool that groups will use is the “your site might go away if you don’t sign an extension now.” Anyone who will use negative news or fear to earn your business is not your ally.

    2. Are they offering signing bonuses or imposing strict deadlines for your decision? – Many sale or lease negotiations will include signing bonuses attempting to lure you away from the total value of your transaction. Signing bonuses are nothing more than a way to reduce the value of the total negotiation through clever mathematics. If you are finished with your negotiation, they can be a nice added feature, but unless you know for sure you are at the top of your negotiation you are merely giving away money.

    3.Does the company you are dealing with also acquire sites? – Make no mistake, it is impossible to wear both hats in this industry and do so with 100% altruism. If a company also finances their own transactions, or is backed by a financial sponsor who buys sites, they will always be looking for a way to offer a landowner less than what they could get on the open market. If a company takes this approach with you, you may often feel like you are receiving top dollar and that “someone else is the one getting the bad deal” but in the end you are contributing to that company’s ability to continue to pursue those opportunities.

    4. Does the representative have a salary? – Salaries cost money. Salaries are often paid out to 50-100 different agents nationwide. When you deal with large companies with significant overhead it often feels good because their marketing materials and presence is sold as a feature to you. An example of that would be receiving .90 when you could have received a dollar. You may tell yourself that that .10 is worth it, knowing that you are dealing with a big company. Ask yourself this question: If I received $400,000 for an asset, would I be willing – at close – to pay someone a $40,000 fee because they are a bigger company or because I like the person? Ask yourself how often you connect with the mortgage rep who closed on your last home purchase? The size of the company has no bearing on the value of your opportunity.

    5. Are they offering you future “unguaranteed” consideration? – If someone makes claims of a dividend, revenue share, or any other component of the transaction that enhances the value of transaction (beyond the pay-out) take a step back and ask yourself “Is this group willing to guarantee I will get what they are saying? Is this group willing to give me back my lump sum and site if they do not live up to their guarantees?” Now more than ever, creative deal structuring is luring landowners to transact in a way that increases their exposure to risk.

    A recent example would be a group offering to trade your rental for future consideration or dividends.

    Financial Analysis: Landmark Infrastructure Partners (LMRK) versus CBRE Group (CBG)

    6. Are they telling you not to speak to other companies? – Any person or company that encourages to steer clear of others is looking to shield you from something. There are many one off consultants who will say “well, we will just go direct to this company because they will be the high bidders anyway” There are international tower companies who have spent 1000’s on mailing campaigns telling landowners “do not speak with anyone but us, when it comes to your lease”

Independence matters in the wireless industry.

Leasehold Finance Advisors LLC, prides itself in being 100% Independent

We work for the landlords, 100% of the time.

For a free consultation on your asset, contact info@lfadvisors.org or call 1-888-45-Tower

Note

LFA, LLC. is a consulting firm focusing on cellular leaseholds. LFA. LLC. and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or financial advice.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal
or financial advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and finance advisors before engaging in any transaction.