T-Mobile USA in $2.4 billion tower deal with Crown Castle

NEW YORK, Fri Sep 28, 2012 – T-Mobile USA, the No. 4 U.S. mobile provider, has agreed to sell the rights to operate 7,200 of its wireless broadcast towers for $2.4 billion to Crown Castle International Corp to help its parent Deutsche Telekom pay back debt.

Crown Castle also has the option to pay another $2.4 billion to buy the towers outright from T-Mobile USA at the end of the lease term for each tower, under the deal announced Friday.

T-Mobile USA has been trying to sell its wireless towers since its proposed purchase by AT&T Inc failed last year due to regulatory opposition.

T-Mobile USA, which is spending $4 billion on a network upgrade, has also been looking for ways to become more financially independent from its parent.

Crown Castle estimates the towers will generate about $125 million to $130 million in adjusted funds from operations before financing costs in 2013.

The towers will have enough space to accommodate at least one additional wireless service provider customer on each tower without significant incremental capital, Crown Castle said.

As part of the deal, T-Mobile USA committed to maintaining its communications facilities on the towers for at least 10 years with annual rent increase provisions tied to the consumer price index.

T-Mobile’s rent includes the rights to complete its current network modernization on these sites.

Deutsche Telekom said the company had multiple bidders for the assets but declined to name them.

Analysts have said other companies that considered the towers included American Tower Corp and SBA Communications Corp.