AMERICAN TOWER CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES
NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED AND CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
AT&T Transaction—The Company has an agreement with SBC Communications Inc., a predecessor entity to AT&T Inc. (“AT&T”), that currently provides for the lease or sublease of approximately 2,350 towers commencing between December 2000 and August 2004. Substantially all of the towers are part of the Company’s 2013 securitization transaction. The average term of the lease or sublease for all sites at the inception of the agreement was approximately 27 years, assuming renewals or extensions of the underlying ground leases for the sites. The Company has the option to purchase the sites subject to the applicable lease or sublease upon its expiration. Each tower is assigned to an annual tranche, ranging from 2013 to 2032, which represents the outside expiration date for the sublease rights to that tower. The purchase price for each site is a fixed amount stated in the lease for that site plus the fair market value of certain alterations made to the related tower by AT&T. As of September 30, 2017, the Company has purchased an aggregate of 77 of the subleased towers upon expiration of the applicable agreement. The aggregate purchase option price for the remaining towers leased and subleased is $816.0 million and will accrete at a rate of 10% per annum through the applicable expiration of the lease or sublease of a site. For all such sites purchased by the Company prior to June 30, 2020, AT&T will continue to lease the reserved space at the then-current monthly fee, which shall escalate in accordance with the standard master lease agreement for the remainder of AT&T’s tenancy. Thereafter, AT&T shall have the right to renew such lease for up to four successive five-year terms. For all such sites purchased by the Company subsequent to June 30, 2020, AT&T has the right to continue to lease the reserved space for successive one-year terms at a rent equal to the lesser of the agreed upon market rate or the then-current monthly fee, which is subject to an annual increase based on changes in the U.S. Consumer Price Index.
ALLTEL Transaction—In December 2000, the Company entered into an agreement with ALLTEL Communications, LLC, a predecessor entity to Verizon Wireless, to acquire towers through a 15-year sublease agreement. Pursuant to the agreement, as amended, with Verizon Wireless, the Company acquired rights to approximately 1,800 towers in tranches between April 2001 and March 2002. The Company has the option to purchase each tower at the expiration of the applicable sublease. The Company exercised the purchase options for approximately 1,523 towers in a single closing, which occurred on December 8, 2016. The Company has provided notice to the tower owner, Verizon’s assignee, of its intent to exercise the purchase options related to the 243 remaining towers. As of September 30, 2017, the purchase price per tower was $42,844 payable in cash or, at the tower owner’s option, with 769 shares of the Company’s common stock per tower. The aggregate cash purchase option price for the subleased towers was $10.4 million as of September 30, 2017.
Other Contingencies—The Company is subject to income tax and other taxes in the geographic areas where it operates, and periodically receives notifications of audits, assessments or other actions by taxing authorities. In certain jurisdictions, taxing authorities may issue preliminary notices or assessments while audits are being conducted. These preliminary notices or assessments do not represent amounts that the Company is obligated to pay and are often not reflective of the actual tax liability for which the Company will ultimately be liable. The Company evaluates the circumstances of each notification or assessment based on the information available and records a liability for any potential outcome that is probable or more likely than not unfavorable if the liability is also reasonably estimable.
On December 5, 2016, the Company received an income tax assessment of Essar Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited (“ETIPL”) for the fiscal year ending 2008 in the amount of 4.75 billion INR ($69.8 million on the date of assessment) related to capital contributions. The Company is challenging the assessment before India’s tax authorities and estimates that there is a more likely than not probability that the Company’s position will be sustained. Accordingly, no such liability has been recorded. Additionally, the assessment was made with respect to transactions that took place in the tax year commencing in 2007, prior to the Company’s acquisition of ETIPL. Under the Company’s definitive acquisition agreement of ETIPL, the seller is obligated to indemnify and defend the Company with respect to any tax-related liability that may arise from activities prior to March 31, 2010.
Tenant Leases—The Company’s lease agreements with its tenants vary depending upon the region and the industry of the tenant, and generally have initial terms of ten years with multiple renewal terms at the option of the tenant.