AT&T announces huge $4.85 billion cell tower deal

AT&T Cell Tower Deal

AT&T on Sunday announced a deal with Crown Castle that will see the nationwide carrier lease the rights to 9,100 of its cell towers and sell another 600 towers. The carrier will receive a huge up-front cash payment of $4.85 billion and Crown Castle will have exclusive rights to operate each of the leased towers for the duration of the contract. AT&T will be able to sublease capacity on each of the towers in question for a minimum of 10 years, and its $1,900 per month per site rent cannot increase by more than 2% annually. The average lease term is 28 years according to AT&T, and Crown Castle will have the option to purchase the leased towers for $4.2 billion at the end of the lease. AT&T’s press release follows below.

AT&T and Crown Castle Announce $4.85 Billion Tower Transaction

Crown Castle to lease about 9,100 towers, purchase about 600 towers from AT&T

DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AT&T* announced today that it has agreed to lease the rights to approximately 9,100 of its company-owned wireless towers to Crown Castle International Corp. Crown Castle will also purchase approximately 600 AT&T towers. In exchange, AT&T will receive about $4.85 billion in cash up-front proceeds.

“This deal will let us monetize our towers while giving us the ability to add capacity as we need it. And we’ll get additional financial flexibility to continue to invest in our business, maintain a strong balance sheet and return value to our shareholders.”

Under the terms of the leases, Crown Castle will have exclusive rights to lease and operate approximately 9,100 AT&T towers. The average term of the lease rights is about 28 years. As the leases expire, Crown Castle will have fixed price purchase options, totaling approximately $4.2 billion, for these towers based on their estimated fair market values at the end of the lease terms.

AT&T will sublease capacity on the towers from Crown Castle for a minimum of 10 years for $1,900 per month per site, with annual rent increases of 2 percent. AT&T has the option to renew up to a total of 50 years. AT&T will also have access to additional reserve capacity on the towers for future use. AT&T expects the additional capacity will help it continue to meet growing demand for mobile Internet services. The transaction will have no impact on the customer experience.

During the terms of the leases, Crown Castle will have full operating rights to and responsibilities for the towers. Crown Castle’s rights will include the ability to sublease other available space to other companies.

“This deal is good for AT&T and our shareholders,” said Bill Hogg, Senior Vice President — Network Planning and Engineering, AT&T Services Inc. “This deal will let us monetize our towers while giving us the ability to add capacity as we need it. And we’ll get additional financial flexibility to continue to invest in our business, maintain a strong balance sheet and return value to our shareholders.”

AT&T expects no significant impact to our financial results from this transaction. AT&T expects the transaction to close by year-end 2013, subject to standard closing conditions.

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