US number-two operator AT&T is looking for buyers for its wireless tower portfolio, with the sale potentially fetching up to $5 billion, reports Bloomberg.
AT&T first stated the possibility of the tower sales in March, with potential buyers including Crown Castle International, SBA Communications and American Tower. Sources said the company is working with JP Morgan Chase and TAP Advisors on the sale.
Funds from a tower sale would bolster AT&T’s coffers as it undertakes a $14 billion network upgrade programme, plans a stock buyback that could be as much as $11 billion, and considers European acquisitions.
The tower industry has been undergoing consolidation, with American Tower recently agreeing the $4.8 billion acquisition of the parent company of Global Tower Partners and purchasing more than 4,000 towers from NII Holdings in Brazil and Mexico.
Crown Castle meanwhile struck a $2.4 billion deal with T-Mobile USA in September to acquire the rights to operate 7,200 towers.
A number of operators have sold their tower assets and leased them back, allowing them to focus on more profitable parts of their operations.
Separately, AT&T announced plans to improve access to Latin American markets for its business customers via a partnership with Mexico-based operator group America Movil.
The collaboration will see the US number-two operator improve connections to America Movil fixed networks in 15 countries, allowing it expand the reach of its enterprise services for multinational companies.
The partnership includes access to the Telmex, Embratel and Claro networks in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. AT&T already has similar capabilities in Mexico and Brazil.
The two companies have a long-running relationship with the US operator holding a stake of around 9 per cent in the Carlos Slim-controlled group.