HOUSTON, Sept. 9, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Crown Castle International Corp. ("Crown Castle") (NYSE:CCI) today announced that it is commencing the steps necessary to reorganize Crown Castle to qualify as a Real Estate Investment Trust ("REIT") for tax purposes. Crown Castle expects to elect REIT status beginning with the taxable year commencing January 1, 2014. "We are delighted to announce this plan for conversion because we believe REIT status is the optimal structure for our business given the real estate nature of our assets," stated Ben Moreland, Crown Castle's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We believe a REIT structure will lower our weighted average cost of capital and provide additional opportunities for creating long-term shareholder value. Further, we expect our conversion to a REIT to have little to no effect on our operations, and we intend to continue our focus on maximizing long-term adjusted funds from operations per share through growth and disciplined capital allocation." Crown Castle's determination as to the timing and amount of future dividend distributions will be based on a number of factors, including investment opportunities around its core business and its existing federal net operating losses of approximately $2.7 billion. Crown Castle does not expect to make any distribution (commonly referred to as a "purging" dividend) prior to its REIT conversion. Crown Castle expects to operate in compliance with the REIT rules beginning January 1, 2014. Crown Castle also expects to take certain actions in 2014 in order to facilitate its compliance with the REIT rules by seeking adoption of certain charter provisions that implement certain standard REIT-related ownership and transfer restrictions. Implementation of these steps will be subject to shareholder approval and final board approval. The REIT election is subject to the completion of all necessary steps of the aforementioned conversion plan and final approval by the Crown Castle Board of Directors.