updated 07:05 pm EDT, Fri July 12, 2013
Merger gives AT&T large spectrum block, may draw regulator concern
AT&T and prepaid wireless provider Leap Wireless have entered into an agreement for AT&T to acquire Leap for $15 per share in cash. Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T will acquire all of Leap's stock and wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores, debt and approximately five million subscribers. Leap shareholders will also receive a contingent right entitling them to the net proceeds received on the sale of Leap's 700 Mhz "A Block" spectrum in Chicago, which Leap purchased for $204 million in August 2012.
Part of the deal for Leap includes its regional carrier subsidiary, Cricket. AT&T will retain the Cricket brand name, provide Cricket customers with access to AT&T's 4G LTE mobile network, utilize Cricket's distribution channels, and expand Cricket's presence to additional US cities. Cricket's employees, operations and distribution will jump-start AT&T's expansion into the highly competitive prepaid segment.
The acquisition includes spectrum in the PCS and AWS bands covering 137 million people and is largely complementary to AT&T's existing spectrum licenses. Immediately after approval of the transaction, AT&T plans to put Leap's unutilized spectrum, blanketing 41 million people, towards its LTE deployment.
The transaction is subject to review by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice and to other customary closing conditions. AT&T expects the transaction to close in six to nine months.