UPDATED: After nearly nine months, AT&T has said it will drop its $39 billion acquisition attempt of T-Mobile USA. The carrier cited recent acts by the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission to block the deal in ending the acquisition attempt.
In a statement, AT&T reiterated that it needed to acquire T-Mobile USA in order to gain access to spectrum resources to power wireless networks straining under increased consumer demand, and that without being able to gain access to those spectrum assets, “customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled.”
AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement that the carrier would continue to invest in its network, but that the government needed to allow the “free markets to work so that additional spectrum is available to meet the immediate needs of the U.S. wireless industry, including expeditiously approving our acquisition of unused Qualcomm spectrum currently pending before the FCC.”
Stephenson added that the government also needed to enact legislation in order to meet the markets growing need for wireless spectrum.
“The mobile Internet is a dynamic industry that can be a critical driver in restoring American economic growth and job creation, but only if companies are allowed to react quickly to customer needs and market forces,” Stephenson added.
T-Mobile’s owner, Deutsche Telekom, also shared in the disappointment.
“Both companies are of the opinion that important arguments in support of the transaction have been ignored, such as the significant improvement in high-speed mobile network coverage for the U.S. market, as well as the positive employment effects,” Deutsche Telekom said. “In addition there was no indication that either authority would move away from it’s non-supportive stance in return for concessions from the parties in terms of the scope and structure of the transaction.”
Deutsche Telekom’s disappointment will at least be somewhat soothed by what it will still get out of the deal thanks to the original agreement’s break-up clause that AT&T valued at $4 billion per a fourth-quarter charge it recently took to cover the potential for the deal breaking down.
That clause provides T-Mobile USA with a seven-year, nationwide UMTS roaming agreement that Deutsche Telekom said would help expand coverage from its current 230 million potential customers covered to 280 million pops covered and into “many regions of the United States in which T-Mobile USA previously had neither its own high-speed mobile communications network nor the associated roaming agreements.”
In addition to the roaming agreement, Deutsche Telekom also picked up 1.7/2.1 GHZ (AWS) spectrum licenses covering 128 markets, including 12 of the nation’s top 20 markets. (Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Baltimore and Seattle). T-Mobile USA currently uses its spectrum assets in the AWS band for its UMTS/HSPA network, but has not yet stated what it plans to use the new spectrum assets for.
Deutsche Telekom will also receive $3 billion in cash that it understandably seemed to relish in receiving.
“This is one of the highest payments ever agreed between two companies for the termination of a purchase agreement. It includes a cash payment of $3 billion to Deutsche Telekom, which is expected to be made by the end of this year,” the company noted.
Analysts seemed prepared for the deal’s collapse as the tide towards the proposed acquisition had grown stiff in the past few months.
“This announcement is certainly not a surprise to us as the writing has been on the wall with regards to insurmountable DoJ opposition for some time,” Macquarie Securities said in a research note. “We commend AT&T for walking away from the deal well before the September deadline and honoring its full breakup fee to T-Mobile. We suspect that the early termination reflects both companies’ desire to move on with other strategic initiatives, spectrum acquisitions and LTE networks buildouts, in order to keep up with industry leader Verizon.”
If the deal had been approved, AT&T Mobility would have vaulted past Verizon Wireless as the nation’s No. 1 operator.
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