Activist investor Elliott says Crown Castle CEO exit step in ‘right direction’

(Reuters) – Activist investor Elliott Investment Management said on Friday that the exit of Crown Castle CEO Jay Brown, who will be leaving in January, was a step in the “right direction” but more changes were needed at the wireless tower owner.

Brown led the company for more than two decades, and his departure is a major win for Elliot, which sought a management shakeup for what it said was years of underperformance.

“We look forward to continuing our dialogue,” the hedge fund, which has about $2 billion stake in the company, said in a statement.

The activist investor said it wants a comprehensive review of Crown’s Fiber business and a transparent search process for the next CEO.

Crown Castle, which competes with American Tower and SBA Communications, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Board member Anthony Melone will serve as interim head while the company looks for a permanent CEO, Crown Castle said on Thursday.

This is the second time in three years Elliott has publicly tried to pressure the Houston, Texas-based company, which has a market capitalization of about $51 billion.

Elliott had first pushed for changes in 2020, when it had a $1 billion stake in the company. Crown Castle responded by refreshing its board and announcing that five long-serving directors would not seek re-election.

(Reporting by Jaspreet Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid)