May 14, 2015 / 1:37 PM / in 3 years

UPDATE 1-Crown Castle to sell Australian unit for A$2 bln

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May 14 (Reuters) - Telecommunications tower operator Crown Castle International Corp said it would sell its Australian unit for about A$2 billion ($1.6 billion) in cash to a group of investors led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets.

Crown Castle owns a 77.6 percent stake in the unit - Crown Castle Australia - which claims to be the largest independent tower operator in Australia with a portfolio of about 1,800 sites.

Crown Castle said it expects to receive net proceeds of about $1.3 billion after accounting for debt and expenses.

The deal will add to Crown Castle’s long-term adjusted funds from operations (AFFO) and dividend growth but hurt the company’s full-year forecast.

The unit was expected to contribute about $58 million-$63 million to Crown Castle’s previously forecast AFFO of $1.45 billion-$1.47 billion.

The company said it expects to use a portion of the net proceeds from the deal to fund its purchase of fiber services provider Quanta Fiber Networks Inc for $1 billion, which it announced last month.

Quanta Fiber Networks Inc is owned by Quanta Services Inc .

The deal is expected to close during the second quarter of 2015, Crown Castle said.

Crown Castle shares rose 1 percent to $83.20 in early trading on Thursday. ($1 = 1.2329 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Sai Sachin R in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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