NEW YORK ( The Deal) -- With AT&T's (T) wireless towers on the market, Crown Castle's (CCI) recent decision to accelerate its conversion to a real estate investment trust has drawn increased attention. The move to the tax-light structure could affect its approach to financing a purchase of AT&T's towers.
Becoming a REIT would place requirements on the wireless tower operator's cash deployments. However, it could also increase Crown Castle's access to the equity markets, which would help it bid for AT&T's assets without adding excessive leverage.
AT&T had hired bankers and made progress in marketing the towers, sources said. Though Bloomberg reported that the Dallas telecom is seeking $5 billion for the towers, one person said the first round of bids had occurred and that the price would be lower.
The portfolio includes about 11,000 towers that produce about $200 million in cash flow and represent one of the last major targets in the industry."I think Crown Castle is still in the driver's seat on the AT&T towers," Jonathan Schildkraut of Evercore Partners said. "A contributing factor to the timing of this announcement may have been the likely need to raise equity to acquire
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