Home » AT&T »Competition »Consumer News »Cricket »Public Policy & Gov't »Wireless Broadband » Currently Reading:

AT&T’s Purchase of Cricket-Leap Wireless Wins Hundreds of Millions in Tax Writeoffs

Phillip Dampier August 6, 2013 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, Cricket, Public Policy & Gov't, Wireless Broadband 1 Comment

cricketAnalysts were surprised at the premium price AT&T agreed to pay when it announced last month it was acquiring Leap Wireless — owner of the Cricket brand prepaid cell phone service — for $1.2 billion plus assuming $2.8 billion in net debt. But newly released documents show AT&T will win significant tax concessions allowing it to shelter hundreds of millions in revenue from the tax man.

In fact, the more Leap Wireless piles up debt and hemorrhages customers, the more AT&T’s taxes go down.

If AT&T wins approval for its deal to take over Cricket’s dwindling customer base, wireless spectrum, and the company’s existing wireless network, it will receive 20 years of tax savings from “pre-change” losses, offering AT&T a tax shelter worth $155 million in taxable income a year. That means AT&T will see at least a $60 million reduction in its tax bill each of the first five years after the deal is approved. Then the savings decrease somewhat for the next 15 years as AT&T gets to write off $35 million annually.

Despite Cricket’s efforts to promote its bundled music and prepaid cell services as an industry game-changer, customers did not agree.

On Thursday, Leap admitted Cricket lost $163 million, or $2.09 per share, on revenue of $731 million for the quarter ended June 30. The company also saw 18 percent of its customers leave over the past year, with 4.8 million remaining. Leap management admitted it was becoming increasingly difficult to compete because its network was smaller than its larger competitors and Cricket had trouble acquiring the hottest smartphones to sell to customers.

Leap has been peddling Cricket on the wireless market since 2009 with no takers, even after it began to slowly pursue a network upgrade to 4G LTE service that was more promise than reality. Recent disclosures show the company lacked the money to expand more quickly.

AT&T still showed little interest in the little carrier that couldn’t over the course of 2012.

att cricketIn May, as T-Mobile closed in on its takeover of similarly sized MetroPCS, things changed. AT&T ended up being the sole bidder for Cricket, offering $9.50 a share.

AT&T raised its offer to a whopping $15 a share after Leap executives promoted Cricket as a useful brand for AT&T to improve its standing in the prepaid market. But executives also sold AT&T on the fact Leap was lousy in debt, which opened up significant tax savings opportunities for AT&T.

BTIG Research’s Walter Piecyk thinks AT&T is shelling out a lot for Leap, even after considering the tax and spectrum benefits. But more than anything else, AT&T may have been willing to pay a premium for Cricket just to make sure none of its competitors, particularly T-Mobile, got there first.

The deal still requires approval by the Federal Communications Commission with a likely weigh-in from the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.

Moffett Research senior research analyst Craig Moffett tells Bloomberg News AT&T’s acquisition of Leap Wireless sticks it to competitors, in particular T-Mobile. AT&T’s purchase blocks T-Mobile and other carriers from getting access to Cricket’s wireless spectrum. Moffett also talks about the trend towards wireless mergers and acquisitions and how Verizon and AT&T got stuck with unwanted, unsold iPhones that could cost the companies millions. (6 minutes)

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. me says:

    So AT&T figured out a way for the tax payer to pay for less competition.

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • Kenny Gregory: I will be glad when the American people wake up to see how the government is only interested in money and power and care less and less each day about ...
  • A: I got notice for price hike from Nov 2017, this is 3rd time price hike since 2015...
  • Roger: Better get your tin foil hat tuned up, Dave. The idea behind the ACA was a noble one. The idea of mandatory health insurance was to build the pool o...
  • Limboaz: What!? No mention of anti-trust hawk Paul Weiss being nominated to head the FTC? He needs to break up the tech behemoths, like Comcrap, Slime Warner, ...
  • Dave: How long before democrats force households to buy cable so they can get “real news”? If they could force us to buy health insurance, then why would th...
  • JayS: Will these price hikes attract over-builders, like Google, to fire-up the trenching machine again? Insight the likes of AT&T, Verizon, T-mobile, S...
  • George: It's a good thing Charter was allowed to buy up Time Warner, or else we'd still have $15/mo cable internet service packages available... If you're no...
  • EJ: Trump and Pia are a blessing in disguise you will see. As long as someone somewhere can muster a decent Bernie type person we only have three more yea...
  • Dale: In our area suddenlink just downgraded the 200mbps from unlimited data to a 350gb data cap. I don't know if this is only for new customers or existing...
  • Larry Gall: This has become far, far too important a resource for the likes of these jerks to control (in it's entirety). The jerks I'm referring to are the Holl...
  • Matt: Until an operator has the guts to give true à la carte options to the customer the trend is just going to continue. Everyone I know who has cut the c...
  • EJ: They better do it while the getting is good. Raise your price and be put on the radar for unfair rate increases. Attempt to sell that you NEED to incr...

Your Account:

%d bloggers like this: