Leap shareholders approve AT&T takeover

Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) shareholders voted to approve AT&T's (NYSE:T) $1.2 billion acquisition of the company on Wednesday, leaving only regulatory approvals in the way of the deal's closing.

At a special shareholder meeting in Denver, Leap said that more than 99 percent of the votes cast were in favor of the deal. "We are pleased with the outcome of yesterday's vote and thank all of our stockholders for their support," Leap CEO Dough Hutcheson said in a statement. "Stockholder approval is an important milestone on our path to completing the merger with AT&T. I'd like to thank the dedicated representatives from both companies who are working hard to complete the transaction."

AT&T CFO John Stephens said last week during the company's third-quarter earnings conference call that AT&T will "use that Cricket brand and infrastructure to really take advantage of that marketplace in a different way with different capabilities than we have today and that's what's real positive for us."

AT&T expects the deal to close sometime during the first quarter of 2014. The FCC and Department of Justice still need to sign off on the transaction.

Earlier this month AT&T disclosed plans to close its new Aio Wireless prepaid brand if the carrier is successful in acquiring Leap, which offers service through the Cricket brand. "After the transaction's close, AT&T intends to combine the nascent operations of Aio with Leap's existing operations under the Cricket brand name," AT&T said in a recent FCC filing.

AT&T launched Aio Wireless in May in a few markets across the country, and then took the offering nationwide last month. Aio currently has more than 230 stores so far in Texas, Florida and Georgia, which are operated by independent dealers. The prepaid brand offers feature phones and smartphones and pricing options ranging from $40 per month to $70 per month. The service is positioned as a response to the likes of Sprint's (NYSE:S) Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile brands as well as T-Mobile US' (NYSE:TMUS) MetroPCS brand and other prepaid services. AT&T had planned to expand Aio's services to 220 million retail POPs by the end of 2016.

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