Crown Castle International, one of the United States’ largest independent owners and operators of shared wireless infrastructure, has emerged as the leading bidder for the cell towers that T-Mobile USA is in the process of trying to sell, the Wall Street Journal reports. As such, a deal worth more than USD2 billion could be struck soon between the two parties. While talks with Crown Castle are believed to be more advanced, rival bidders American Tower Corporation and Global Tower Partners are both still believed to be in the running. The cellco has also reportedly received bids from a number of as-yet-unnamed private equity firms. T-Mobile, which is owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (DT), currently has around 7,000 cell towers in the US.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in March T-Mobile hired New York bank TAP Advisors to help sell off wireless towers and raise cash for its German parent DT. DT halted its plan to sell off some of its US assets in 2011 after agreeing to AT&T Inc’s USD39 billion bid for T-Mobile, only for the deal to collapse in December because of insurmountable regulatory hurdles.
T-Mobile USA is not the first major carrier to consider selling its towers. In 2008 Sprint Nextel sold 3,080 towers to TowerCo for an estimated USD670 million in cash, while 2009 saw AT&T divest 235 communication towers to Global Tower Partners for an undisclosed sum.