AT&T agrees to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion

AT&T and Deutsche Telekom just announced the sale of T-Mobile USA for $39 billion — $25 billion cash and $14 billion in AT&T stock, giving Deutsche Telekom an 8% stake in the U.S. telecom giant.  If the deal passes regulatory approval, which the companies estimate will take up to 12 months to complete, the combined subscriber base would exceed 130 million, making AT&T by far the largest mobile operator in America (followed by Verizon and Sprint).  Moreover, since AT&T and T-Mobile are the country’s only major GSM operators, AT&T would gain a monopoly on GSM cell service in the U.S.

AT&T says the deal will bring “straightforward synergies” due to “complementary network technologies, spectrum positions and operations.”  The company also claims the deal will expand the footprint of its LTE 4G service by 46.5 million people, to 294 million, or 95% of the U.S. population.  T-Mobile USA itself had no clear plans to migrate to LTE, however, suggesting that AT&T intends to use T-Mobile’s AWS spectrum (1700/2100 MHz) for LTE, alongside its own 700 MHz bands.

If the deal does not receive regulatory approval, AT&T will have to pay T-Mobile a $3 billion “breakup fee,” transfer AWS spectrum it is currently not using for LTE deployment to T-Mobile, and sign a roaming agreement to give T-Mobile access to its network.

Read on for more about the deal.

AT&T seems to be inching closer to regaining the strength it once had as a telecom monopoly before the U.S. goverment broke it up in the early 1980s.

Deutsche Telekom had been seriously considering exit options for T-Mobile USA for many months prior to today’s announcement.  Several reports cited Sprint as a merger, sale, or acquisition (+ spin-off) target, but the two companies’ entirely different technologies (CDMA + WiMAX vs. GSM + HSDPA+) make such a linkup unlikely.  The AT&T takeover makes much more sense technologically, and the prospects of a nationwide LTE deployment are indeed exciting.  However, the implications of a GSM monopoly are unclear as of yet.  T-Mobile has traditionally been much more liberal than AT&T in allowing its customers to use cell data tethering, unlocked phones, contract-free plans, and the like, and it does significantly better than AT&T in customer service satisfaction surveys, so its customers might stand to lose from an AT&T takeover.

The deal faces an enormous risk of government antitrust objections– a Credit Suisse analyst commented that he had “never seen a deal with more regulatory risk be attempted in the U.S.”  AT&T is keenly aware of this, however, and has carefully crafted its press release to assuage regulators’ concerns.  Instead of mentioning the size advantage it would enjoy over Verizon after the deal, AT&T highlights the benefits it would bring to American consumers through $8 billion in infrastructure spending.  The release also ties AT&T’s LTE 4G plans to President Obama and the FCC’s vision to deliver high-speed mobile internet to rural communites across America.

In the press release, AT&T’s Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson says the deal is “a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation’s future” and will “help achieve the President’s goals for a high-speed, wirelessly connected America.”  The company also calls attention to its union workforce and how the deal will boost the competitiveness of the U.S. wireless industry and improve cell connectivity across the country.

Here are some slides from AT&T on the acqusition’s impact on the operator’s LTE buildout:

Press releases below:

AT&T Press Release

AT&T to Acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom

  • Provides Fast, Efficient and Certain Solution to Impending Spectrum Exhaust Challenges Facing AT&T and T-Mobile USA in Key Markets Due to Explosive Demand for Mobile Broadband
  • Enhances Network Capacity, Output and Quality in Near Term for Both Companies’ Customers
  • AT&T Commits to Expand 4G LTE Deployment to an Additional 46.5 Million Americans, Including in Rural, Smaller Communities, for a Total of 294 Million or 95% of the U.S. Population
  • Provides 4G LTE Service for T-Mobile USA’s 34 Million Subscribers
  • More Than $8 Billion in Incremental Infrastructure Spend by a U.S. Company over Seven Years, Enabling Nation’s High-Tech Industry, Innovation and Economic Growth
  • Creates Substantial Value for AT&T Shareholders Through Large, Straightforward Synergies

DALLAS & BONN, Germany–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Deutsche Telekom AG (FWB: DTE) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which AT&T will acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom in a cash-and-stock transaction currently valued at approximately $39 billion. The agreement has been approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies.

“This transaction represents a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation’s future.”

AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA provides an optimal combination of network assets to add capacity sooner than any alternative, and it provides an opportunity to improve network quality in the near term for both companies’ customers. In addition, it provides a fast, efficient and certain solution to the impending exhaustion of wireless spectrum in some markets, which limits both companies’ ability to meet the ongoing explosive demand for mobile broadband.

With this transaction, AT&T commits to a significant expansion of robust 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) deployment to 95 percent of the U.S. population to reach an additional 46.5 million Americans beyond current plans – including rural communities and small towns. This helps achieve the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and President Obama’s goals to connect “every part of America to the digital age.” T-Mobile USA does not have a clear path to delivering LTE.

“This transaction represents a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation’s future,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T Chairman and CEO. “It will improve network quality, and it will bring advanced LTE capabilities to more than 294 million people. Mobile broadband networks drive economic opportunity everywhere, and they enable the expanding high-tech ecosystem that includes device makers, cloud and content providers, app developers, customers, and more. During the past few years, America’s high-tech industry has delivered innovation at unprecedented speed, and this combination will accelerate its continued growth.”

Stephenson continued, “This transaction delivers significant customer, shareowner and public benefits that are available at this level only from the combination of these two companies with complementary network technologies, spectrum positions and operations. We are confident in our ability to execute a seamless integration, and with additional spectrum and network capabilities, we can better meet our customers’ current demands, build for the future and help achieve the President’s goals for a high-speed, wirelessly connected America.”

Deutsche Telekom Chairman and CEO René Obermann said, “After evaluating strategic options for T-Mobile USA, I am confident that AT&T is the best partner for our customers, shareholders and the mobile broadband ecosystem. Our common network technology makes this a logical combination and provides an efficient path to gaining the spectrum and network assets needed to provide T-Mobile customers with 4G LTE and the best devices. Also, the transaction returns significant value to Deutsche Telekom shareholders and allows us to retain exposure to the U.S. market.”

As part of the transaction, Deutsche Telekom will receive an equity stake in AT&T that, based on the terms of the agreement, would give Deutsche Telekom an ownership interest in AT&T of approximately 8 percent. A Deutsche Telekom representative will join the AT&T Board of Directors.

Competition and Pricing

The U.S. wireless industry is one of the most fiercely competitive markets in the world and will remain so after this deal. The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world where a large majority of consumers can choose from five or more wireless providers in their local market. For example, in 18 of the top 20 U.S. local markets, there are five or more providers. Local market competition is escalating among larger carriers, low-cost carriers and several regional wireless players with nationwide service plans. This intense competition is only increasing with the build-out of new 4G networks and the emergence of new market entrants.

The competitiveness of the market has directly benefited consumers. A 2010 report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) states the overall average price (adjusted for inflation) for wireless services declined 50 percent from 1999 to 2009, during a period which saw five major wireless mergers.

Addresses wireless spectrum challenges facing AT&T, T-Mobile USA, their customers, and U.S. policymakers

This transaction quickly provides the spectrum and network efficiencies necessary for AT&T to address impending spectrum exhaust in key markets driven by the exponential growth in mobile broadband traffic on its network. AT&T’s mobile data traffic grew 8,000 percent over the past four years and by 2015 it is expected to be eight to 10 times what it was in 2010. Put another way, all of the mobile traffic volume AT&T carried during 2010 is estimated to be carried in just the first six to seven weeks of 2015. Because AT&T has led the U.S. in smartphones, tablets and e-readers – and as a result, mobile broadband – it requires additional spectrum before new spectrum will become available. In the long term, the entire industry will need additional spectrum to address the explosive growth in demand for mobile broadband.

Improves service quality for U.S. wireless customers

AT&T and T-Mobile USA customers will see service improvements – including improved voice quality – as a result of additional spectrum, increased cell tower density and broader network infrastructure. At closing, AT&T will immediately gain cell sites equivalent to what would have taken on average five years to build without the transaction, and double that in some markets. The combination will increase AT&T’s network density by approximately 30 percent in some of its most populated areas, while avoiding the need to construct additional cell towers. This transaction will increase spectrum efficiency to increase capacity and output, which not only improves service, but is also the best way to ensure competitive prices and services in a market where demand is extremely high and spectrum is in short supply.

Expands 4G LTE deployment to 95 percent of U.S. population – urban and rural areas

This transaction will directly benefit an additional 46.5 million Americans – equivalent to the combined populations of the states of New York and Texas – who will, as a result of this combination, have access to AT&T’s latest 4G LTE technology. In terms of area covered, the transaction enables 4G LTE deployment to an additional 1.2 million square miles, equivalent to 4.5 times the size of the state of Texas. Rural and smaller communities will substantially benefit from the expansion of 4G LTE deployment, increasing the competitiveness of the businesses and entrepreneurs in these areas.

Increases AT&T’s investment in the U.S.

The acquisition will increase AT&T’s infrastructure investment in the U.S. by more than $8 billion over seven years. Expansion of AT&T’s 4G LTE network is an important foundation for the next wave of innovation and growth in mobile broadband, ensuring the U.S. continues to lead the world in wireless technology and availability. It makes T-Mobile USA, currently a German-owned U.S. telecom network, part of a U.S.-based company.

An impressive, combined workforce

Bringing AT&T and T-Mobile USA together will create an impressive workforce that is best positioned to compete in today’s global economy. Post-closing, AT&T intends to tap into the significant knowledge and expertise held by employees of both AT&T and T-Mobile USA to succeed. AT&T is the only major U.S. wireless company with a union workforce, offering leading wages, benefits, training and development for employees. The combined company will continue to have a strong employee and operations base in the Seattle area.

Consistent with AT&T’s track record of value-enhancing acquisitions

AT&T has a strong track record of executing value-enhancing acquisitions and expects to create substantial value for shareholders through large, straightforward synergies with a run rate of more than $3 billion, three years after closing onward (excluding integration costs). The value of the synergies is expected to exceed the purchase price of $39 billion. Revenue synergies come from opportunities to increase smartphone penetration and data average revenue per user, with cost savings coming from network efficiencies, subscriber and support savings, reduced churn and avoided capital and spectrum expenditures.

The transaction will enhance margin potential and improve the company’s long-term revenue growth potential as it benefits from a more robust mobile broadband platform for new services.

Additional financial information

The $39 billion purchase price will include a cash payment of $25 billion with the balance to be paid using AT&T common stock, subject to adjustment. AT&T has the right to increase the cash portion of the purchase price by up to $4.2 billion with a corresponding reduction in the stock component, so long as Deutsche Telekom receives at least a 5 percent equity ownership interest in AT&T.

The number of AT&T shares issued will be based on the AT&T share price during the 30-day period prior to closing, subject to a 7.5 percent collar; there is a one-year lock-up period during which Deutsche Telekom cannot sell shares.

The cash portion of the purchase price will be financed with new debt and cash on AT&T’s balance sheet. AT&T has an 18-month commitment for a one-year unsecured bridge term facility underwritten by J.P. Morgan for $20 billion. AT&T assumes no debt from T-Mobile USA or Deutsche Telekom and continues to have a strong balance sheet.

The transaction is expected to be earnings (excluding non-cash amortization and integration costs) accretive in the third year after closing. Pro-forma for 2010, this transaction increases AT&T’s total wireless revenues from $58.5 billion to nearly $80 billion, and increases the percentage of AT&T’s total revenues from wireless, wireline data and managed services to approximately 80 percent.

This transaction will allow for sufficient cash flow to support AT&T’s dividend. AT&T has increased its dividend for 27 consecutive years, a matter decided by AT&T’s Board of Directors.

Conditions

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals, a reverse breakup fee in certain circumstances, and other customary regulatory and other closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close in approximately 12 months.

Advisors

Greenhill & Co., J.P. Morgan and Evercore Partners acted as financial advisors and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Arnold & Porter, and Crowell & Moring provided legal advice to AT&T.

Conference Call/Webcast

On Monday, March 21, 2011, at 8 a.m. ET, AT&T Inc. will host a live video and audio webcast presentation regarding its announcement to acquire T-Mobile USA. Links to the webcast and accompanying documents will be available on AT&T’s Investor Relations website. Please log in 15 minutes ahead of time to test your browser and register for the call.

For dial-in access, please dial +1 (888) 517-2464 within the U.S. or +1 (630) 827-6816 outside the U.S. after 7:30 a.m. ET. Enter passcode 8442095# to join or ask the conference call operator for the AT&T Investor Relations event.

The webcast will be available for replay on AT&T’s Investor Relations website on March 21, 2011, starting at 12:30 p.m. ET through April 21, 2011. An archive of the conference call will also be available during this time period. To access the recording, please dial +1 (877) 870-5176 within the U.S. or +1 (858) 384-5517 outside the U.S. and enter reservation code 29362481#.

Transaction Website

For more information on the transaction, including background information and factsheets, visit www.MobilizeEverything.com.

Deutsche Telekom Press Release
Bonn/ Dallas, March 20th 2011

Deutsche Telekom: US Deal accelerates own transformation
Deutsche Telekom to receive 39 billion USD for US-business
Deutsche Telekom to have up to 8 percent stake in the leading US telecommunications company
AT&T takes over US mobile business from Deutsche Telekom

  • Deutsche Telekom will receive 25 billion USD in cash and 14 billion USD in AT&T shares
  • Attractive multiple of 7.1 times 2010 adjusted EBITDA
  • Deutsche Telekom plans to use approximately 5 billion EUR for sharebuybacks
  • Deutsche Telekom net debt is planned to be reduced by approximately 13 billion EUR or 31 percent

Deutsche Telekom will take an approximately 8 percent stake in US telecommunication company AT&T. At the same time Deutsche Telekom will hand over 100 percent ownership of T-Mobile USA to AT&T. This has been agreed by the boards of the two companies today. AT&T will pay 25 billion USD in cash for T- Mobile USA, in addition to 14 billion USD in AT&T shares. AT&T has the right to increase the portion of the purchase price paid in cash by up to 4.2 billion USD with a corresponding reduction in the stock component. The value of the transaction will be 39 billion USD. This will amount to an attractive multiple of approximately 7 times 2010 adjusted EBITDA. The merger still needs US regulatory approval. The closing of the transaction is expected to be completed in first half of 2012.

1René Obermann, CEO Deutsche Telekom: “We have achieved the best solution for our company, our customers and shareholders. This will strengthen our position in Europe, whilst we are still participating in the rapidly growing business of mobile data. We will be able to focus more on the opportunities of a modern infrastructure in Germany and Europe, as well as in Internet products that accompanies to our strategy “fix, transform and innovate”. Following our initiatives of finding a solution for our activities both in the United Kingdom and Poland, we have with this transaction nearly accomplished the “fix” part of our strategy. We will now focus our resources more on the “transform” and “innovate” blocks of our strategy in order to accelerate the transformation of Deutsche Telekom.”

Timotheus Höttges, CFO Deutsche Telekom: “As the biggest single share holder of AT&T we will also significantly benefit from their strong dividend. With the excellent result of this transaction we will be able to continue to develop our company. At the same time we will be able to reduce our debts and initiate one of the biggest share buy back programs in both Germany as well as in the European telecommunication industry.”

Deutsche Telekom is planning to reduce its debt by approximately 13 billion EUR. Approximately 5 billion EUR are planned to be used for share buybacks after closing and required resolutions in accordance with the legal requirements .

Randall Stephenson, CEO and Chairman AT&T: “This transaction delivers significant customer, shareowner and public benefits that are available at this level only from the combination of these two companies with complementary network technologies, spectrum positions and operations. We are confident in our ability to execute a seamless integration, and with additional spectrum and network capabilities, we can better meet our customers’ current demands, build for the future and help achieve the President’s goals for a high-speed wirelessly connected America.”

For Deutsche Telekom the transaction after closure will provide amongst others a consolidation of the balance sheet. Pro forma the ratio for net debt to adjusted EBITDA in 2010 will be reduced to 1.9x from 2.2x, a reduction of 31 percent.

There will be no change regarding the shareholder remuneration policy which has been set for three years. As has been provided within the legal guidelines, Deutsche Telekom will continue with its plans to pay out 3.4 billion EUR on an annual basis consisting of a minimum dividend of 70 cents plus share-buybacks. The share buybacks amounting to approximately 5 billion EUR, which are planned after the closure of the transaction, will come on top of this.

The Guidance for 2011 remains unchanged. For the financial year 2011 Deutsche Telekom expects an adjusted EBITDA of around 19.1 billion EUR. The free cash flow is expected to be stable to slightly growing from the 2010 level of 6.5 billion EUR.

Deutsche Telekom is to receive one seat on AT&T’s Board of Directors.

Morgan Stanley acted as lead financial advisor and issued a fairness opinion to the supervisory board of Deutsche Telekom. Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse acted as financial advisors for Deutsche Telekom.

Deutsche Telekom was advised by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz (M & A, N.Y.C) as well as Cleary Gottlieb and Wiley Rein (antitrust and regulatory law, Washington D.C.).

About Deutsche Telekom

Deutsche Telekom is one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunications companies with around 129 million mobile customers, approximately 36 million fixed- network lines and more than 16 million broadband lines (as of December 31, 2010). The Group provides products and services for the fixed network, mobile communications, the Internet and IPTV for consumers, and ICT solutions for business customers and corporate customers. Deutsche Telekom is present in over 50 countries and has around 247,000 employees worldwide. The Group generated revenues of EUR 62.4 billion in the 2010 financial year – more than half of it outside Germany (as of December 31, 2010). For further information on Deutsche Telekom, please visit www.telekom.com/media

About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company. Its subsidiaries and affiliates – AT&T operating companies – are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. A leader in mobile broadband and emerging 4G capabilities, AT&T also offers the best wireless coverage worldwide of any U.S. carrier, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse® and AT&T │DIRECTV brands. The company’s suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world. In domestic markets, AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive are known for their leadership in local search and advertising.

Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com

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