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Bank of America Analyst Suggests AT&T and Verizon Wireless Buyout Vodafone

Phillip Dampier March 18, 2013 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, Verizon, Vodafone (UK), Wireless Broadband No Comments

att verizonVerizon Wireless and AT&T could cooperate to allow both companies to build market power in the United States and abroad with a buyout of Vodafone, now a part-owner of Verizon Wireless.

The world’s second largest wireless service provider (behind China Mobile), Vodafone could be subject to an American takeover if the two largest phone companies in the United States structure the deal together.

Bank of America-Merrill analyst David Barden suggested AT&T could buy Vodafone’s international assets at an estimate price of $70 billion, allowing Verizon to buyout Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless.

Barden warned the deal would be time-consuming, and likely attract strict scrutiny from regulators both at home and abroad, but a deal would give Verizon its desired full control of its domestic wireless operation and allow AT&T to become a major global player in the wireless marketplace in Europe, Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East.

An analyst from RBC made news last week suggesting AT&T could be amenable to selling its non-core assets to raise cash, including the sale of its wireless broadcast and cell towers — money that could be used to help pay for such a deal.

AT&T spokesman Brad Burns declined to comment specifically on the speculation by RBC, but admitted, “if we wanted additional flexibility, that could be an option for us.”

“In all cases, our decisions are driven by what’s right for the company and for our shareowners, so in that sense, nothing’s off the table,” Burns said. “But any comments by analysts about potential sales are simply speculation.”

AT&T achieved record cash flows in 2012 and will likely end 2013 with $14 billion in free cash, which could be used in an acquisition strategy or returned to shareholders.

Fran Shammo, chief financial officer of Verizon, noted the company has been interested in taking full control over its wireless division for some time.

The estimated cost of buying out Vodafone’s U.S. share is around $115 billion.

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Stop the Cap!