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AT&T approaches smaller rivals to save T-Mobile bid

Bloomberg  |  New York 

AT&T Inc is approaching smaller rivals, including and to sell spectrum and subscribers, as part of an attempt to save its $39-billion takeover of T-Mobile USA Inc, said two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

AT&T has also reached out to CenturyLink Inc, Dish Network Corp and Sprint Nextel Corp to gauge their interest in buying assets, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private.

AT&T, based in Dallas, is seeking ways to salvage its agreement to acquire T-Mobile USA from Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom AG after the justice department sued on August 31 to stop the deal. The talks with competitors are preliminary and may not lead to a deal, and the justice department may also deem the remedies insufficient, the people said.

AT&T, which would become the largest US wireless operator with the purchase, has said it would fight the justice department in court and has asked for an expedited hearing for the case. The company and the DOJ are scheduled to meet in court on Wednesday to explore whether a settlement may be reached.

Bank of America Corp is advising AT&T on potential asset sales, according to the people. JPMorgan Chase & Co, Greenhill & Co and Evercore Partners Inc were AT&T’s original advisers on the deal.

Sprint, the third-biggest US mobile operator, filed a September 6 antitrust lawsuit against the T-Mobile deal.

Spokesmen for AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, MetroPCS, Leap, CenturyLink, Dish, Sprint and Bank of America declined to comment.

Deutsche Telekom declined as much as 3.1 per cent to ¤8.24 in Frankfurt trading and was down 2.5 per cent at 10:16 am. AT&T closed 1.4 per cent higher at $28.94 in New York trading on September 16, while Sprint declined 2.3 per cent to $3.36.

AT&T has agreed to compensate Deutsche Telekom with $3 billion in cash, as well as wireless spectrum and roaming agreements, if the deal isn’t completed. Deutsche Telekom has also said it would work to close the deal. In addition to the DOJ, the companies need approval from the to complete the transaction.

First Published: Tue, September 20 2011. 00:00 IST