SoftBank set up a new venture focused on the US telecoms infrastructure market, as it was reported the company’s investments in the region are in the spotlight.

The Japan-based company partnered with property and infrastructure group Lendlease to create a venture called Lendlease Towers. It will focus on partnering with “major US carriers” on future expansions, with the aim of creating a geographically diverse portfolio of rooftop and tower assets through both development and acquisition.

Both companies have committed USD 200 million equity and, as it grows, Lendlease Towers will look to introduce other capital partners. The initial USD 400 million is allocated to fund the acquisition and restructure of around 8,000 existing tower sites, including rooftops and other structures, across the US.

Of course, SoftBank already operates in the US telecoms infrastructure market via its ownership of Sprint. Although the initial statement from Lendlease made no direct reference to the operator (or its assets) Kansas City Business Journal reported a Lendlease representative confirmed Sprint assets will be included in the portfolio.

The US market is already home to several big tower players, including American Tower, Crown Castle and SBA Communications.

Lendlease Towers will target USD 5 billion of telecom infrastructure assets over the medium term. Lendlease is taking on management responsibilities for the venture.

US deal watch

According to Financial Times, US regulators have still to clear “at least three” SoftBank deals, following close scrutiny from the Trump administration.

This includes SoftBank’s acquisition of robotics company Boston Dynamics from Alphabet.

With SoftBank being a large investor in the US, thanks to its USD 100 billion venture fund, questions have been raised over its abilities to do more big deals. A significant investment in US taxi app company Uber has been mooted.

And with a merger of Sprint and T-Mobile US believed to be close, more regulatory scrutiny is clearly on the cards.

The report noted SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son and President Trump appear to be on good terms – Trump cited SoftBank in Congress as an example of a company promising to invest in the US since his election – meaning the holdups may simply be administrative. - Mobile World Live 


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