Verizon is unloading around a quarter of its wireline telephone assets and selling about 165 of its cell towers in an effort to trim debt and enhance cash for investments.
The telecom behemoth also unveiled its plans to buyback shares worth $5 billion on Thursday.
Verizon’s shift towards wireless business
Verizon Communications said Thursday that it plans to sell its local wireline business in California, Texas and Florida to Frontier Communications Corp. for $10.54 billion. The sale will leave Verizon with its remaining operations in that business concentrated in nine states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.
As part of its exit plan, the New York-based company will also part with millions of customers who use FiOS, the fiber-optic network the telecom giant has spent about $23 billion rolling out over the past decade. After the transaction, Verizon will be left with roughly 1.6 million fewer FiOS Internet subscribers, about 24% of the company’s total. Verizon will also be left with 1.2 million fewer FiOS video customers, about 21% of the total.
The latest deal with Frontier will sharply accelerate Verizon’s shift toward the wireless business, which already accounts for about 69% of its $127 billion in annual revenue.
Following news reports of Frontier Communications acquiring the landline assets of the telecom behemoth, Frontier’s shares rose almost 6% to $7.70 per share.
Verizon’s cell phone towers sale
Verizon Communications also announced on Thursday that it will lease over 11,300 cell towers and sell 165 towers worth $5.06 billion to Boston-based American Tower. As part of the deal, American Tower would gain exclusive rights to lease and operate the towers, and Verizon would continue to have access to reserve capacity on the towers.
Of note, Verizon purchased 181 licenses worth $10.4 billion in a government sale of wireless airwaves for mobile data that closed last week.
This was on top of $130 billion it spent in 2013 to buy the 45% of Vodaphone’s wireless unit that it didn’t already own.
The largest U.S. carrier by subscribers has been exploring options to speed up its debt repayment and divest assets to help fund repurchasing shares it issued after it announced the Vodafone deal.
Verizon also unveiled its plans to buy back $5 billion in shares starting in this year’s second quarter.
Reacting to Thursday’s announcements, Verizon’s stocks rose about 1% in after-hours trading, while American Tower’s stock was up slightly after the bell.