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iHeartMedia to Sell Some Towers

Broadcaster plans to lease them back for broadcast use

In the future, the media company that owns more U.S. radio stations than any other will be leasing more of its tower capacity rather than owning it.

iHeartMedia, the former Clear Channel, is selling some of its towers to Vertical Bridge for up to $400 million.

The media company did not identify which towers or how many are involved in the sale, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015.

Vertical Bridge has been in acquisition mode and recently raised more capital. Today it also announced a deal to buy 595 towers from U.S. Cellular Corp. for approximately $159 million.

Meanwhile iHeartMedia plans to lease its current towers from Vertical Bridge in order to continue to use them to broadcast its stations. The deal allows the broadcaster to “optimize our balance sheet and maximize liquidity,” according to iHeartMedia President/CFO Richard Bressler.

The sale means Vertical Bridge will have some 2,000 sites. Many of the iHeartMedia towers already have broadband telephony and data tenants, with the capacity to add more, said Vertical Bridge CEO Alexander Gellman.