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The Deal: American Tower Fires Back at Muddy Waters

Tickers in this article: AMT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - American Tower appears to have allayed some concerns following a report from Muddy Waters Research, the activist short-sellers, that blasted the company for issues ranging from the accounting of a Brazilian acquisition to the viability of its business as well as share sales by company executives.

Shares of the Boston wireless infrastructure company gained 0.8% on Thursday to close at $74.44 nearly even with its close of $74.71 on Tuesday, the day before Muddy Waters published its report.

Analysts questioned the Muddy Waters allegations about American Tower's accounting, and suggested the research firm had overplayed its concerns about the the sector.

"The piece seems filled with unfounded assertions, factually incorrect data and conjecture," Morningstar Inc. analyst Imari Love said of the 188 page Muddy Waters report.

American Tower rebutted one of the most serious accusations, that it had misreported the price of a Brazilian tower acquisition, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Wednesday. And company CEO James Taiclet addressed some of the issues in an appearance on CNBC's Mad Money with Jim Cramer, who is a founder and director of TheStreet Inc., The Deal's parent. On th show, Taiclet called the "ill-timed" and "completely wrong."

Muddy Waters asserts that there is a $250 million gap between the price that American Tower says it paid for 666 wireless towers in Brazil, and the amount that the company actually paid.

"If AMT is aware of this discrepancy," the firm stated, "it would amount to fraud."

American Tower filed an 8k late Wednesday outlining the sources of financing for the deal, which it says are listed in documents from the seller. There are intercompany loans of BRL 554 million ($335 million) and BRL303 million ($184 million) in equity contributions, both of which the company said are registered with the Central Bank of Brazil. The rest came from cash generated by the business.

Muddy Waters published a Google street view photo of the headquarters for the accounting firm that American Tower allegedly used for the Brazilian acquisition, which is in a run-down building in an apparently residential neighborhood.