Back in October, AT&T announced that it would be selling the lease rights to many of its U.S. towers to Crown Castle International for approximately $4.85 billion. The mobile provider today announced that the deal has closed, though at a slightly lower price than was estimated before.
AT&T has now sold the lease rights to at least 9,000 of its wireless towers to Crown Castle, the largest provider of wireless infrastructure in the U.S. The mobile provider has also sold outright 600 of its wireless towers to Crown Castle. AT&T was paid approximately $4.83 billion for the sale.
Under the terms of the deal, Crown Castle now has the exclusive right to lease and operate all 9,000 AT&T wireless towers. AT&T will sublease the towers back from Crown Castle at a set rate for at least the next decade.
Though the sale represents a huge short-term cash windfall for AT&T, the company has stated that it does not expect the transaction to significantly impact its 2013 financial results. Instead, AT&T plans on spending the money for "general corporate purposes, including opportunistic share repurchases" and the repayment of short-term debt. At the time of the deal's announcement, AT&T SVP of Network Planning and Engineering Bill Hogg stated that the deal would provide the company with "additional financial flexibility" and allow it to "return value to [its] shareholders."
For Crown Castle's part, the transaction puts it in charge of even more U.S. wireless infrastructure, especially in top markets around the country. The company last year also bought the rights to over 7,000 wireless towers from T-Mobile for $2.4 billion.