Crown Castle in talks with “multiple parties” over sale of fiber and small cell businesses – DatacenterDynamics

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Tower company Crown Castle has provided an update on its review of its fiber business, revealing that it’s in talks with multiple parties.

The discussion around its fiber business has been contentious in recent months, as the current board has been involved in a public spat with co-founder Ted Miller.

Miller, who was the company’s CEO until 2001, wants to sell the fiber business and has previously said the assets could fetch as much as $15 billion.

He’s currently pushing to be appointed to the board along with three other nominees, to pursue a sale.

Addressing the company’s approach to the fiber unit this week, Roberto Bartolo, chairman of the Crown Castle board of directors, told analysts during an earnings call that talks are progressing.

“The goal of these assessments was to determine how to optimize the company’s enterprise fiber and small cell businesses and determine the fit, value, and synergies both inside and outside of Crown Castle,” he said. “As it relates to the overarching conclusion, this review confirmed that we have premier assets in attractive markets throughout the US. The next step was to determine the optimal path to maximizing the value of these assets, both within and/or outside of Crown Castle.

“To help assess the potential value creation opportunities, we have recently engaged with multiple parties, who have expressed interest in a potential transaction involving all or part of our fiber business. These discussions are ongoing.”

Crown Castle said its quarterly results were in line with expectations, reporting earnings of around $1.04 billion, as site rental revenues declined by two percent.

The company did, however, report organic revenue growth of five percent across its tower, fiber, and small cell businesses during the first quarter.

Crown Castle added that its full outlook for the remainder of this year is unchanged.

“I’m pleased the team was able to continue to serve our customers well and deliver solid financial and operating results in the first quarter, and we remain on track to meet our full-year 2024 outlook,” said Tony Melone, who served as Crown Castle’s interim president and CEO.

“At the same time, we made significant progress on the fiber strategic review and appointed Steven Moskowitz, a proven leader with deep industry experience, as Crown Castle’s new President and CEO. With over 25 years of demonstrated operating experience and a successful track record of value creation, I believe Steven’s leadership will enable Crown Castle to execute its strategic and operating plans and grow value for all shareholders.”

Former American Tower president Moskowitz was appointed CEO earlier this month. He joins at a time when Crown Castle has been in a back-and-forth public spat with Miller.

Miller has been critical of the company’s strategy and wants to invalidate the cooperation agreement between Crown Castle’s board of directors and Elliott Investment Management.

Miller, who co-founded Crown Castle in 1994, launched a proxy fight against the company while outlining his vision to change the firm’s strategy.

Crown Castle has previously slammed Miller, calling him “self-serving” after Miller filed a lawsuit against the company’s board and Elliott Investment Management.

The company operates more than 40,000 towers, 120,000 small cells on air or under contract to go on air; and around 85,000 route miles of fiber.

In a 39-page plan that detailed Miller’s vision at the company, he pointed out that back in 2013, the company owned 40,000 towers and employed 1,400 people. By comparison, today the company still owns around the same amount of towers, but employs more than 2,200 people, despite cutting 15 percent of its workforce.

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