**Editor’s Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Q1 2015.**
Communications Sales and Leasing Inc. (CS&L) began trading Monday on the NASDAQ after Windstream Holdings Inc. completed its tax-free spinoff of telecommunications network assets into the new public company.
As of 9:28 a.m. ET, shares of CS&L, an independent real estate investment trust (REIT), were down 15 cents to $28.45. The REIT anticipates paying an annual dividend of $2.40 per share.
In connection with the transaction, Windstream said it repaid $2.4 billion in debt under an outstanding credit agreement. The business-focused communications provider also received cash proceeds of nearly $1.04 billion, which Windstream anticipates using to retire additional debt over the next 30 days.
The spinoff has “made Windstream a stronger company with less debt and increased capacity to invest in our network to provide advanced communication services to customers,” Windstream CEO Tony Thomas said.
CS&L believes it is the first REIT to focus on the acquisition and leasing of communication distribution systems.
Windstream’s plans last year to form a REIT triggered speculation that other telecommunications companies would explore a similar path to benefit shareholders. Last year, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said the company looked into forming a REIT, though an analyst noted Verizon faced a more complicated process and predicted the company would wait to see how Windstream’s REIT traded publicly before making any decisions.
Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Windstream is a Fortune 500 company with 2014 revenues and sales of $5.8 billion.