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Verizon open to divesting cell tower assets: CFO

Verizon open to divesting cell tower assets: CFO

WASHINGTON (StartName) – Verizon Communications Inc is open to divesting its network’s assets including its cell towers, the company’s chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

Verizon, which in February completed a $130 billion deal to buy Vodafone’s stake in Verizon Wireless and get full ownership over the company, has previously announced plans to trim some aspects of its portfolio.

CFO Fran Shammo said the company was inspired by rival AT&T’s $4.85 billion sale of some of its towers to tower operator Crown Castle last year, a deal which preserved AT&T’s right to lease and operate the towers for about 28 years.

“The AT&T deal was a good deal for them. It opened our eyes and we said ‘OK, maybe there is a way to get through this and protect our interest and get a deal that is palatable to us’,” Shammo told investors at a conference in Los Angeles, adding that Verizon wants to protect its ability to expand its network when necessary.

Shammo also said the company’s multicast technology, which allows mass audiences to stream content from multiple devices without crowding Verizon’s network, will be available in most devices the company launches in the fourth quarter.

Verizon is negotiating deals with content providers to create a web-based TV service delivered to mobile platforms outside of a linear TV subscription.

However, Shammo predicts it will be a few years before the multicast technology translates into greater leverage for negotiations with content providers.

“It will take a year or two before we have a meaningful number of subscribers where content providers say ‘I can get my hands around this, you now have a meaningful base of subscribers’, he said.

The company will also have better leverage once Nielsen Holdings, which measures television audiences, is able to measure mobile audiences, he said. Nielsen is expected to launch that service in the fourth quarter.

(Reporting by Marina Lopes; Editing by James Dalgleish and Andrew Hay)

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