US operator Alltel sees growth amid $24.7b buyout

US wireless giant Alltel's CEO says the wireless company will continue to pursue its strategy of growing in rural markets, even though it will be carrying a tremendous debt load to finance its $24.7 billion buyout by two private investment firms, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report quoted Alltel CEO Scott Ford as saying that the company will still be able to grow, a day after Alltel announced that TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners would buy the company for $71.50 per share.

He noted that it has nearly completed a $3 billion share repurchase program, has been paying regular dividends and has been spending on capital improvements, the report said.

The added debt service, estimated at $23 billion, won't hinder the company when the other expenses are stripped away, Ford said.

Alltel had about $2.7 billion in debt entering the transaction, the Associated Press report said.

Ford said Alltel went private because it provided the best deal for shareholders. But he also said the deal enables Alltel to keep its employees and continue to pursue a growth strategy that has built the wireless carrier to fifth largest in the nation with 12 million customers and the nation's largest geographic network, the report added.

Ford said there's no plan to lay off workers and that extra compensation for them will be announced later, the report further said.

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