Reports indicate that AT&T (T) is now in talks with Leap Wireless about possibly acquiring some of T-Mobile USA’s assets in order to make its attempt to acquire T-Mobile USA more palatable to government regulators. It appears that the government is concerned that AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA will result in a concentration of wireless assets in the hands of what would become the nation’s largest operator, a problem that divestitures could alleviate. This route has been taken in many recent acquisitions, most notably Verizon Wireless acquisition of Alltel, which resulted in spectrum and markets having to be sold off to garner approval.
For AT&T, the selling of spectrum assets could appear most troubling as the carrier cited the need for additional spectrum assets to bolster its plans for an LTE network when it first announced plans to acquire T-Mobile USA. It’s expected that the divested T-Mobile USA spectrum assets would include its 1.7/2.1 GHz spectrum assets that are in the same spectrum band as Leap uses for its CDMA-based services and could use for its planned LTE deployment.
AT&T has remained adamant that it wants to get this deal passed, including recently announcing plans to take a $4 billion charge during the fourth quarter to cover a possible break-up fee. Analysts have noted that the charge is more a showing by AT&T that it’s serious about making this deal happen.
AT&T’s plans to rescind its Federal Communications Commission application to acquire T-Mobile USA and focus on the current Department of Justice lawsuit looking to block the proposed $39 billion deal appears set to move forward.
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