Private equity firms don’t often make the news for good reasons, and today is no exception.
Apparently, Peppertree Capital Management, one of the largest private equity firms in Ohio, has teamed up with investment banking titan Goldman Sachs to allegedly try and attempt to screw over its local partners in a telecommunications towers venture working in countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, among other developing nations.
This is according to a Yahoo! News story about a lawsuit filed by Terra Towers, which alleges that as minority shareholders Peppertree violated its fiduciary duties by blocking “thousands” of tower development opportunities while at the same time secretly negotiating a merger with Torrecom, a competing firm.
“This complaint alleges a series of actions undertaken by the minorities in coordination with Torrecom to deprive the company of numerous profitable opportunities,” says Enrique Canton, an executive and spokesperson for Terra Towers. “We are surprised and disturbed that Torrecom’s leadership agreed to collude with Goldman and Peppertree. Like Peppertree, Torrecom is a private equity-backed entity whose leadership has a fiduciary duty to the institutional investors entrusting them with millions of dollars.”
“We are a family-owned group that has bet on the growth of the markets where we operate for more than 20 years. We are proud of having created thousands of jobs and partnering with carriers so they can offer telecommunications services across Latin America, contributing to our region’s sustained economic development,” the spokesman said in the press release. “These are outside actors with no real commitment to the long-term development of our region, and when they engage in this kind of ruthless, short-sighted corporate maneuvering, they hinder the economic growth of the emerging markets where we operate by rejecting thousands of projects that would’ve otherwise enabled carriers to expand their coverage into communities that desperately need better telecommunications services.”
It’s one thing to see consolidation in the telecommunications sector led by these private equity firms, but when these brute force tactics result in Latin American citizens not having access to bandwidth (especially for their children’s schooling in a pandemic), it is bound to attract criticism.