SoftBank Creates Venture to Buy 8,000 Cellular Sites Across U.S.

By Drew FitzGerald Features Dow Jones Newswires

Japanese telecom giant SoftBank Group Corp. plans to form a joint venture with Australia's Lendlease Group to buy about 8,000 cellular sites across the U.S., challenging tower operators that dominate the industry.

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Most of the infrastructure will initially come from Sprint Corp., which is selling its interest in rooftop transmitters and other sites to the joint venture, according to Lendlease. SoftBank, which owns about 80% of Sprint's outstanding shares, has struggled to turn the carrier into a profitable business since it took a controlling stake in the company in 2013.

SoftBank and Lendlease will each initially contribute $200 million toward the new infrastructure company, called Lendlease Towers, with plans to snap up $5 billion of telecom assets "over the medium term" as the venture grows, a Lendlease spokesman said.

The backers didn't say how much of that future commitment they plan to fund themselves but said they are seeking more capital partners. A Sprint spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.

--Ryan Knutson contributed to this article.

Write to Drew FitzGerald at andrew.fitzgerald@wsj.com

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 17, 2017 12:17 ET (16:17 GMT)