AT&T hires Wall Street bankers to help it divest of assets if requested by the Feds

AT&T hires Wall Street bankers to help it divest of assets if requested by the Feds
AT&T, thinking ahead a bit about its strategic planning, hired investment banking firms Bank of America and Merrill Lynch to be ready to help the carrier sell off network properties. AT&T is concerned that the Feds might require a divestiture of some of its post-merger pipeline in order to gain regulatory approval to complete the purchase of T-Mobile. 

According to the WSJ, insiders privy to information about the inner workings of the deal say that based on analysis of the markets where AT&T might be forced to divest assets, $8 billion of pipeline or more might have to be sold. These same insiders say that any forced selling would come just before the deal were to be completed in early 2012, and would mostly be network infrastructure currently belonging to T-Mobile. AT&T says that the T-Mobile deal is necessary to overcome an alleged shortage of spectrum. AT&T also says that without the T-Mobile purchase, it might stop its 4G- LTE build out to 80% of the U.S. population instead of the 97% it plans on covering if the deal closes.

Opponents of the deal, like Sprint, say that no matter how much of the combined network AT&T divests, the deal is anti-competitive as it would give AT&T a huge majority of the cellular industry making it harder for other firms to attract customers and offer the best handsets. So far, the FCC has had a poker face and has not tipped its hand. Most believe the agency would agree to the deal with some conditions likely. Joining Sprint has been some public advocacy groups and the Senate's anti-trust leadership along with former comic, Senator Al Franken.

source: WSJ

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