Sprint to double down on $3.5B spectrum leaseback deal

Sprint is doubling down on its spectrum leaseback arrangement, offering a second tranche that could raise another $3.5 billion.

Sprint will double down on its spectrum leaseback arrangement, CFO Tarek Robbiati confirmed this morning, as the carrier continues to regain its financial footing.

The nation’s fourth-largest mobile network operator announced plans in October to raise $3.5 billion by placing 14% of its spectrum into three vehicles that will lease the airwaves back to Sprint under a long-term agreement. The deal enabled Sprint to pay off higher interest loans, Robbiati said, saving the carrier more than $170 million.

And the operator plans to offer a second tranche that could raise another $3.5 billion.

“We’ve designed a program to go all the way to $7 billion,” Robbiati said of the leaseback arrangement at an investors conference this morning. “We will be issuing a second tranche fairly soon, and that is a very nice way to fund our business going forward.”

Sprint continues to struggle financially but has addressed concerns about its liquidity through a series of creative financial structures. It added $3.1 billion in liquidity earlier this year through a second sale and leaseback arrangement for mobile devices through Mobile Leasing Solutions and an 18-month bridge loan.

The carrier received $1.1 billion last year in an initial handset-leasing deal and followed that move by using its network equipment as collateral in a $2.2 billion deal through a company its parent, SoftBank, helped create.

“Last year it was about shoring up liquidity; that’s why we embarked on the MLS transactions” for the handset leaseback deals, Robbiati said. “We’ve shifted our focus to lowering the cost of interest, and right now I really want and am determined to lower our overall cost of debt.”

Sprint has effectively grown its share of the U.S. smartphone market over the last year, but concerns about its financial stability linger. The company added 347,000 net postpaid phone customers in the latest quarter, up from 62,000 during the same period a year ago, but it posted a net loss of $142 million.