Originally published: November 29, 2011
Last updated: December 21, 2011 - 5:15pm
AT&T, under pressure from regulators over its bid for T-Mobile USA, may be willing to shed up to half of the target’s customers to close the deal and gain control of assets including wireless spectrum, analysts said.
AT&T, the second-largest U.S. wireless operator, is weighing the sale of customers and spectrum to address Justice Department concerns that the acquisition of the fourth- largest operator will undercut competition. The company may propose total divestitures of as much as 40 percent of T-Mobile assets. AT&T could sell a higher percentage of T-Mobile’s customers and smaller share of other assets, said Roger Entner, founder of market research firm Recon Analytics LLC. Most important for AT&T is getting T-Mobile spectrum, or licenses to airwaves that provide more capacity for wireless traffic, he said. “It’s still a good deal even if they have to give up half the customers,” said Entner. “AT&T desperately needs spectrum in larger cities and would give it up elsewhere.” AT&T wants to work out an agreement with the Justice Department, which sued on Aug. 31 to block the deal. If the two sides can’t reach a compromise, they’re scheduled to go to trial in February.
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