When American Tower Corp., a global cell phone tower operator, asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to convert the company to REIT status in the spring of 2011, some analysts were intrigued but skeptical. The conversion would allow the telecommunications giant to benefit from the favorable market conditions for publicly traded REITs while simultaneously granting it tax-exempt status. At the same time, however, American Tower would be forced to pay regular dividends to ...

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