updated 07:55 pm EST, Sun December 18, 2011
ATT makes no progress on T-Mo asset sale offers
AT&T isn't making any progress in its attempts to sell T-Mobile assets to rescue its attempted buyout of T-Mobile, insiders uncovered Sunday. Discussions with smaller carriers have reportedly "gone cold," the Wall Street Journal heard. Among other problems, attempts to sell assets to Leap for its Cricket service fell as doubts existed that even this could salvage AT&T's proposed T-Mobile merger.
Dish Network, MetroPCS, and foreign companies were said to have been in the running as well.
The state of the deal is believed bleak enough by the sources that AT&T may decide to drop the takeover altogether. If true, it may even have a decision made in the less than two weeks remaining from 2011. AT&T hasn't commented on the talks.
Signs have emerged from multiple corners that AT&T might not have much choice but to cancel its plans altogether. After the FCC warned that it would require a hearing that aired out details of the merger if the then-active Department of Justice trial didn't block the terms, AT&T withdrew the application and promptly saw publicized a report it had tried to keep secret. The two carriers have motioned to stay the trial to "evaluate all options" with language that strongly hinted a cancellation was possible, if not probable.
An inside if unofficial look at the government's reaction has suggested that AT&T may have overplayed its hand. Its conspicuous "astroturf" (false, financially-motivated grassroots) support and a lack of hard evidence for claims of job creation and necessity led officials to decide that few, if any, concessions would be enough to overlook the elimination of a major competitor. Many consider the first obvious fatal blow to be when it gave the FCC an estimate from January that it only needed $3.8 billion to reach its 97 percent LTE coverage target, not the $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile it offered two months later.