On July 29, Windstream announced that it plans to spin off certain telecommunications network assets into an independent, publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT). Windstream made the announcement after it obtained a favorable private letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding the tax-free nature of the spin-off and the qualification of the spun-off entity's assets as real property for REIT purposes.
Under the transaction, Windstream will spin off its existing fiber and copper network, real estate, and other fixed assets into a publicly traded, independent REIT. The REIT's primary activity will be to lease the use of the assets back to Windstream through a long-term "triple net" exclusive lease. Windstream shareholders will retain their existing shares and receive shares in the REIT commensurate with their Windstream ownership. The transaction is intended to effectively enable Windstream to deduct, for federal income tax purposes, the amount of rent paid to the REIT without a corresponding corporate level income tax inclusion in income by the REIT—estimated to generate up to a $650 million annual overall reduction in taxable income between Windstream and the REIT.
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