The Blackstone Group, Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts & Co., and the Carlyle Group made bids for the roughly $3 billion in assets that Verizon Wireless agreed to divest as a condition in its $28.1 billion acquisition of Alltel. The FCC mandated that Verizon divest from the territory to ease antitrust issues.
In February it was reported that AT&T Mobility was bidding on the assets, and that KKR and the Carlyle Group would make a joint bid. U.S. Cellular was also said to have made a bid. The deadline for bids was last week.
The deal includes 2.1 million former Alltel subscribers spread across 22 states, spectrum and other assets. The assets could be prime targets for AT&T, which lost its place as the nation's top wireless carrier when Verizon's purchase of Alltel closed in early January.
The divested territories, which are currently being managed by a trust, are offering wireless service until a buyer is found. These customers have not been automatically integrated into Verizon, and if they wish to do so they would have to break their contract with Alltel and become a Verizon subscriber, as if they were coming from another carrier.
The possibility that AT&T could pick up the divested subscribers has rankled consumer advocates, who argue that such a move would not be in the interest of customers.
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