AT&T may be close to selling their wireless towers to Crown Castle International Corporation, according to Bloomberg. Terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed because it’s still being finalized, but people with “knowledge of the matter” say it could be in the ballpark of $5 billion.
The sale is said to be in response to AT&T working on a $14 billion network upgrade, and an $11 billion stock buyback. The Dallas based carrier is also eyeing some European carriers. People familiar with AT&T’s plans say they’re interested in acquiring Vodafone, once they sell their interest in Verizon back to big red.
AT&T has roughly 10,000 towers generating $326 million in annual revenue, in part due to lease agreements with other carriers. Selling the towers at a 17-fold profit would net AT&T about $3.7 billion, according to JPMorgan research analyst Phil Cusick.
Last year, Crown Castle purchased 7,200 towers from T-Mobile USA for $2.4 billion. These moves essentially allow companies like AT&T to have some immediate cash flow, while leasing the towers long term. This allows carriers to focus on the more profitable aspects of business, like selling rate plans and upgrading networks.