Cell-tower owner Crown Castle, under pressure from an activist investor to improve its financial performance, reportedly has been approached by a technology buyout firm seeking a minority stake in the Houston-based company’s fiber optic business.

Digital Colony, which owns and invests in telecommunications and technology businesses, approached Crown Castle about taking a stake in its fiber-optic business, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the discussions.

The overture would come as Elliott Management has been urging Crown Castle to improve the performance of its fiber optic business, and in a letter to its board of directors earlier this month encouraged taking on an experienced partner to run those operation.

FIBER: Activist investor renews attack on Crown Castle

Reuters reported that Digital Colony CEO Marc Ganzi spoke with Jay Brown, Crown Castle’s CEO, about the proposal.

Crown Castle, which has said in the past that it has no intention of selling

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Crown said Monday it is “open to considering opportunities to create value.”


Dreamstime

Activist investor Elliott Management is ratcheting up the pressure on
Crown Castle.

The hedge fund disclosed a $1 billion stake in the Houston-based cell tower firm last month, arguing that Crown wasn’t getting proportional rewards for its hefty investment of time and money in its fiber-cable business. At the time, Elliott suggested Crown Castle (ticker: CCI) should target a 40% return on its fiber spending.

On Monday, Elliott turned up the heat, calling on Crown to immediately begin an operational and strategic review of the fiber business, claiming that Crown hasn’t yet put forth a credible plan to improve its fiber business. The hedge fund noted that, instead, Crown announced a series of “incremental steps and rear-guard actions,” including corporate-governance changes and the coming departure of its chief operations officer, which didn’t address Elliott’s

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