A Tower Empire Takes Shape

Crown Castle International has jumped from relative obscurity to become the largest independent owner of communications towers, with about 7,000 of them located primarily in the U.S.

Crown Castle International has jumped from relative obscurity to become the largest independent owner of communications towers, with about 7,000 of them located primarily in the U.S. and the U.K. In the U.S. market, Crown has built its tower empire primarily by striking deals with wireless service providers, which have sold their tower infrastructure businesses to Crown in return for favorable leasing rates.

Here's a rundown of some key developments at Crown back to August 1998.

  • Sept. 15, 1999: GE Capital makes a $200 million capital investment in Crown. Crown's shares close at $19.44.

  • July 12: Crown subleases all unused space on 773 BellSouth and BellSouth PCS towers for $317 million.

  • June 8: Crown acquires 619 towers from Powertel for $262 million in cash.

  • April 13: Crown agrees to build-to-suit arrangement for 50 towers with Western Wireless.

  • March 31: Bell Atlantic Mobile sells 1,460 towers to Crown for $660 million and a five-year build-to-suit arrangement.

  • March 9: BellSouth subleases 1,850 of its towers to Crown for $610 million and a build-to-suit agreement for 500 more towers to be built over five years.

  • Dec. 1, 1998: Triton PCS sells 125 towers to Crown for an undisclosed sum.

  • Aug. 18, 1998: Crown files its initial public offering of 14 million shares at $13 per share.

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