Crown Castle gives in to Elliott’s demands with fiber unit review, board changes

(Reuters) – Crown Castle on Wednesday announced a review of its fiber business and replaced two directors on its board as part of a deal with activist investor Elliott, which has sought to shake up the wireless tower operator for years of underperformance.

The company has also formed two committees under the deal – one for the Fiber unit review and another to search for its next CEO. Its former top boss Jay Brown resigned earlier this month, days after Elliott called for an executive change.

“Today’s announcements mark a significant step forward toward a stronger and more valuable Crown Castle,” Elliott Senior Portfolio Manager Jason Genrich said.

Genrich will get a seat on Crown Castle’s board as part of the agreement, along with former T-Mobile executive Sunit Patel. They will replace Benjamin Moreland and Maria Pope.

After the changes, Crown Castle’s board will consist of 12 members, of whom 11 are independent.

The fiber business posted a 4% rise in revenue in the last reported quarter, but the figure was down about 25% from the previous three months. The unit accounts for nearly a third of the company’s total revenue.

Elliott has said the company should consider a possible sale of the business, improve corporate governance and optimize its incentive plan, among others.

The demands are the second time the activist investor is publicly pressuring Crown Castle after Elliott urged management to rethink its fiber infrastructure strategy and criticized the company’s shareholder returns in 2020.

(Reporting by Jaspreet Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)