SoftBank and Sydney, Australia-based Lendlease Group announced a new joint venture meant to invest in the telecommunications infrastructure market in the United States under the name of Lendlease Towers. The two will purchase and repurpose some 8,000 telecom sites throughout the country and will target a variety of infrastructure that they’re planning to lease to mobile service providers in the U.S. as their network capacity demands keep increasing, as suggested by their joint statement released on Tuesday. Lendlease will manage the venture and its assets, in addition to taking the role of its development manager, with SoftBank primarily contributing to the initiative by funding it. The firms are committing $200 million equity each and seeking to manage approximately $5 billion worth of telecom infrastructure in the “medium term,” which may mean anything from several years to around a decade.
No specific wireless carriers that will be partnering with the joint venture have been named by either Softbank or Lendlease, though most industry watchers expect the firms to join forces with T-Mobile and Sprint, i.e. the company that would be created through their merger which the two have been actively discussing in recent months, according to numerous reports. While the consolidation of Sprint and T-Mobile may take a long time to be approved by Washington — provided that ever happens — a telecom giant that would be created by such a move would be even more competitive if it had a sister company that’s a major player in the U.S. cellular tower market, according to some industry watchers. Likewise, even though SoftBank isn’t expected to control the merged company and would instead agree to Deutsche Telekom being the largest shareholder of the consolidated entity, the Japanese conglomerate may still condition the deal by insisting the tie-up partners with its newly announced infrastructural joint venture.
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Lendlease Towers will be seeking to acquire geographically diverse holdings and should hence be equipped to service a wide variety of needs in the industry. The $400 million equity fund is expected to be expanded in the future with help from other capital partners that will be invited to join the venture, the partners said. Lendlease and SoftBank described their latest move as a continuation of their long-established collaboration in the latter’s home country.