updated 10:10 am EDT, Mon September 19, 2011
ATT may sell assets to MetroPCS and Leap
AT&T is now talking directly with MetroPCS and Cricket's parent company Leap in an attempt to save its now seriously threatened buyout of T-Mobile, a pair of sources divulged Monday. The carrier is hoping to sell customer bases and wireless spectrum licenses to its smaller sometime-competitors in hopes of reaching a settlement, Bloomberg said. Bank of America is being tapped specifically to help negotiate the deal.
The discussions are believed "preliminary" and might not result in anything, according to the tips. Even if a deal is struck, the nature of the Department of Justice may also say that no amount of divested assets could stop its lawsuit attempting to block the deal.
Dealmaking follows just after a Sprint lawsuit also hoping to shut down the AT&T and T-Mobile merger. Both Sprint and the DOJ have said that the $39 billion deal would be anticompetitive and isn't needed for AT&T to improve its network. The lawsuit surprised some in the industry as many have criticized the DOJ and FCC for tending to largely greenlight deals that have been widely opposed, such as the Comcast-NBC merger.
AT&T has often tried to justify the takeover by portraying much smaller, frequently regional carriers as competitors even as it claims a true national carrier like T-Mobile isn't a significant threat. It's unofficially but commonly though that the carrier's inadvertent posting of an unredacted FCC filing may have sabotaged its own case. AT&T revealed determinations from January that it only needs $3.8 billion to reach the 95 to 97 percent LTE coverage, not $39 billion and the elimination of a competitor.