UPDATE 1-SBA Communications to buy more telecom towers from Brazil's Oi

Wed Dec 4, 2013 8:59am EST

Dec 4 (Reuters) - SBA Communications Corp said it would acquire 2,007 telecom towers from Brazil's Grupo Oi SA for about 1.53 billion reais ($645 million), giving the U.S. company ownership or control over more than 5,000 towers in Brazil.

SBA and its U.S. peers American Tower Corp and Crown Castle International Corp are in a scramble to beef up assets in Brazil ahead of the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games to be hosted there.

American Tower said in August it would acquire about 4,500 telecom towers in Brazil and Mexico from Latin American telecom service provider NII Holdings Inc for $811 million.

SBA said on Wednesday it expected the new towers to contribute about 110 million reais of cash leasing revenue and $70 million reais of tower cash flow to its results during 2014.

"These are very good sites, concentrated in the most populous areas of Brazil, with demonstrated attractiveness to tenants," Chief Executive Jeffrey Stoops said.

The company bought 2,113 towers from Oi in July for about $302.6 million.

SBA started operations in Brazil last December with the acquisition of 800 towers from an unnamed broadband wireless carrier for 362.8 million reais.

Oi has been working to reduce debt since it announced its merger with Portugal Telecom in October. Net debt at Oi was 29.3 billion Brazilian reais ($12.58 billion) at the end of the third quarter.

Oi's common shares jumped nearly 8 percent to 3.81 reais in Sao Paolo. Nasdaq-listed SBA's shares were untraded before the bell.

The deal, which is expected to close by the end of March, will also boost cash available for strategic investments, Oi said in a filing. SBA will assume the cost of operating, maintaining and expanding the cell towers.

Wireless carriers in Brazil have been making sale-leaseback agreements on their towers to help pay down debts and boost results in the face of an economic slowdown.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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