- Associated Press - Friday, September 28, 2012

HOUSTON (AP) - Crown Castle International has agreed to buy the rights to about 7,200 T-Mobile towers for $2.4 billion in cash.

Under the agreement, Crown Castle will have the right to lease and operate the T-Mobile towers for an average of about 28 years.

The company also will have the option to buy the towers at the end of the lease terms for payments totaling about $2.4 billion. The deal is expected to close in fourth quarter.

Crown Castle CEO Ben Moreland said that 83 percent of the towers are located in the top 100 U.S. markets and nearly three-quarters are in the top 50.

“The T-Mobile assets are expected to provide significant growth driven by the continued demand for wireless data services, particularly in the most densely populated areas in the US,” he said in a statement.

Houston-based Crown Castle International Corp. owns, operates and leases wireless towers and antennas. It says that many of the towers are located in top markets across the U.S. and will help the company grow.

T-Mobile, which is owned by Deutsche Telekom AG, says the cash generated from the deal will pay for upgrades to its network.

Shares of Crown Castle fell 28 cents to $64.63 in morning trading Friday. Its shares hit a 52-week high to $66.11 per share two weeks ago.

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