Verizon to sell wireline assets, towers for $19 billion

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Verizon to sell wireline assets, towers for $19 billion

Signs deals with Frontier, American Tower.

The US' largest carrier Verizon Communications will sell off its wireless assets and mobile phone towers in two separate deals worth over A$19 billion.

Frontier Communications will spend US$10.54 billion (A$13.5 billion) in cash to take over Verizon's wireline assets, and American Tower will fork over US$5 billion to acquire the company's towers.

The sales are the latest in a series of non-core assets Verizon has sold in recent months to reduce debt and raise cash for investments.

The Frontier deal is expected to close in the first half of next year and is subject to regulatory approval, Verizon said.

Frontier will acquire Verizon's local wireline operations in California, Florida and Texas, including 3.7 million voice connections, 1.2 million FiOS video connections and 2.2 million broadband connections, Verizon said.

The company said it will lease over 11,300 towers and sell 165 towers worth US$5 billion to Boston-based American Tower.

Verizon also announced plans to buyback shares worth US$5 billion.

The largest US carrier by subscribers, Verizon purchased 181 licenses worth US$10.4 billion in a government sale of wireless airwaves for mobile data that closed last week.

That came on top of US$130 billion it spent in 2013 to buy from Vodafone the 45 percent in its wireless unit that it did not already own.

Verizon has been exploring steps to speed up its debt repayment and divest assets to help fund repurchasing some shares it issued after it announced the Vodafone deal.

The company will use capital raised in these two transactions to invest in upgrading its network, deliver shareholder returns and repay debt, CEO Lowell McAdam told investors.

"We remain committed to getting back to our pre-Vodafone transaction credit rating profile in the 2018 to 2019 time frame," McAdam said.

The company has been investing heavily in growing its wireless business while reducing spend on its broadband and telephone services.

Frontier did a similar deal in 2009, when Verizon sold 4.8 million rural phone lines to Frontier for US$8.6 billion in stock and cash.

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