Looking to salvage bid, AT&T may seek buyer for up to 40 percent of T-Mobile’s assets

Facing U.S. government roadblocks, AT&T is considering selling up to 40 percent of T-Mobile’s assets in order to preserve its massive bid for the Bellevue carrier, reports Bloomberg News. That’s a far higher percentage than what had been contemplated in the past, signaling AT&T’s desire to own T-Mobile, even at significant costs.

Analysts say that it could be difficult for AT&T to find a buyer of the assets, in part because the pool of competitors has shrunk in the wireless industry over the years. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why the Department of Justice sued to stop the $39 billion takeover on August 31.

With fewer players in the wireless industry, the DOJ fears that prices will rise for consumers.

Last week, AT&T pulled its application with the Federal Communications Commission for approval of the merger.

The New York Times suggests that certain T-Mobile assets could be sold to a foreign carrier looking to expand in the U.S. — such as Mexico’s América Móvil — or cable giants like Time Warner or Comcast. Private equity firms also could make a bid or join a syndicate of investors.

The Times notes:

Each of the options would present obstacles. And it is not clear that AT&T would be interested in a drastically scaled-down deal. Yet the company has consistently argued that its main motivation for pursuing T-Mobile is to acquire scarce wireless spectrum, so AT&T can quickly build out high-speed, next-generation network capacity to improve its service.

  • CM Harrington

    Which is why the merger was *purely* about spectrum, and nothing else.

  • Guest

    What assets can they sell?

    They’re not going to sell the spectrum since that’s the only reason they want T-Mobile. If they have to sell too much spectrum, the deal will fail.

    They can’t sell the retail stores since they won’t have anything to sell.

    They can’t sell the customers without the spectrum the customers need. No other carrier has GSM service so all the customers would need to buy a new phone. That’s not a real customer, it’s a potential customer at best.

    So all they really can sell is towers that they don’t need. How does that improve competition?