Fire sale? Sprint is selling off a ton of its cell towers to a private equity firm, TowerCo, for an infusion of $670 million in cash. They'll then lease the towers back from the company. The reason? “Significantly, this transaction provides Sprint Nextel with additional liquidity which gives us greater flexibility in managing our company.” Yeah, that extra liquidity is probably something Sprint could use, but a less optimistic observer might suggest that getting rid of physical assets makes it easier for another company to buy them up. Of note -- this is very similar to the arrangement Sprint has set up for their WiMAX network: let somebody else handle the physical towers, Sprint just leases them.
Sprint is selling around 3,300 towers, give or take, which the Wall Street Journal says is “nearly all” of them, though that seems like a lowish number to us since Steel in the Air estimated they had 25,000 of them back in 2005.