Just two days ahead of its fourth-quarter results, AT&T (T) on Tuesday announced its intention to acquire regional carrier Allied Wireless, the group formed by divested Alltel assets three years ago, for $780 million in cash. The bulk of Alltel’s assets and subscribers were acquired by Verizon (VZ) in January 2009, and the company’s remaining assets and roughly 585,000 wireless subscribers will now be picked up by AT&T if the merger is approved by regulators. The full press release follows below.
Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. ATNI +1.50% , a telecommunications service provider to rural, niche and other under-served markets, today announced it has agreed to sell its domestic retail wireless business operated under the Alltel name by ATN’s subsidiary Allied Wireless Communications Corporation (“Allied”). AT&T will purchase the operations in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $780 million.
Allied, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, serves approximately 585,000 customers in rural areas of six states – Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Ohio and Idaho, and generated revenues for the first nine months of 2012 of approximately $350 million. In ATN’s public filings, these operations are consolidated within its U.S. Wireless segment. These operations generated operating income estimated to be approximately $34 million, which is net of depreciation and amortization expense of approximately $42 million, for the first nine months of 2012.
“We are pleased that AT&T recognizes the value of our U.S. wireless retail operations and is acquiring these assets,” said Michael T. Prior, Chief Executive Officer. “Alltel’s customers will benefit from access to a nationwide 4G network, a larger device selection, additional retail locations and a broader range of product offerings. Additionally, many of our employees should benefit from new career opportunities within AT&T. We will work closely with AT&T to close the transaction and to ensure a smooth transition for our customers and employees.”
Commenting on the use of proceeds once the transaction is completed, Mr. Prior said, “We have a disciplined, long-term approach to managing our portfolio and intend to balance the use of the after-tax proceeds among new acquisition opportunities, a possible reduction in debt outstanding, investments in our existing lines of business and returns to shareholders through dividends.”
The transaction is subject to customary closing terms and conditions and regulatory approval from the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. The companies expect to complete the transaction in the second half of 2013.
Following the close of the sale, Atlantic Tele-Network’s businesses will consist of Commnet, serving rural communities primarily in the Southwest U.S.; Sovernet, serving residential and business customers in New England; ION, serving rural communities in New York State; GT&T, serving Guyana; CellOne, serving Bermuda; and Choice, Islandcom and Mio, serving portions of the Caribbean islands.
Stephens, Inc. is serving as financial advisor to Atlantic Tele-Network and provided a fairness opinion for the transaction. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Jenner & Block are providing legal counsel.