After the head of the Federal Communications Commissioned moved to block AT&T buying T-Mobile’s USA operations, AT&T announced on Thanksgiving Day that it was withdrawing (for now) its application with the FCC for its planned $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA — and would take a $4 billion charge against earnings, the amount owed to T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom in the event of a failed deal. Its next move? According to the New York Times, an asset sell-off is likely looming.
“Focusing on the antitrust trial, scheduled for February, the companies … vowed to continue to pursue their bold plan to combine the second- and fourth-largest cellphone carriers in the United States,” the Times reports of the buzz on Wall Street. “But the companies’ ambitions must be scaled back if they want any chance at a deal, analysts say. To address the objections of the Justice Department and F.C.C. that a merger would be anticompetitive, AT&T could agree to sell off 40 percent or so T-Mobile’s assets to wireless rivals, they say.”
Possible scenarios include selling assets to rivals who opposed the merger: Sprint and MetroPCS, the third- and fifth-largest U.S. carriers. Good thing AT&T has hired a “high-powered Internet attorney” to plead its case: “High-powered internet attorney Kent Wesley,” played by Will Arnett, who will say or do “whatever it takes to get you the AT&T 4G smartphone you deserve.” See more of AT&T’s “You’ve Got a Case” holiday campaign with Arnett below.[more]