This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

The Deal: Crown Castle's Lead on Tower Deal May Rest on REIT

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 [AT&T]'s Towers, and the rightful expectation that early REIT conversion would be positively received by the market," he said of Crown Castle's announcement in September that it would change its capital structure sooner than previously expected.

Schildkraut suggested that the final sale price may not represent the "true cost" of the towers. AT&T would like to keep the right to upgrade the towers, and would likely fold an agreement into the sale.

"Eighteen to 20 times cash flow will be the headline number," he said. "The true cost will include whatever upgrade rights AT&T is able to negotiate."

That would put the valuation at $3.6 billion to $4 billion.

Kevin Smithen of Macquarie Capital estimated that AT&T's towers could raise $4.5 billion to $5 billion, based on a multiple of $400,000 to $450,00 per tower.

There are other acquisitive tower operators. Earlier this month, rival American Tower agreed to pay $4.8 billion for Global Tower Partners, backed by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners Inc., Dutch pension fund manager PGGM BV and company management.

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,001.22 -38.27 -0.22%
S&P 500 1,988.40 -3.97 -0.20%
NASDAQ 4,538.5510 +6.4470 0.14%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs