AT&T's (NYSE:T) plans to sell off assets in a bid to keep alive its proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA appear to be running out of steam, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The report, citing unnamed sources, said that it is looking more likely that AT&T will attempt to find some kind of alternative to a full-scale merger with the nation's No. 4 carrier, including taking a stake in T-Mobile or forging a network-sharing deal. The network-sharing option has already been floated as a possibility. While a deal involving a sale of assets is still a possibility, it is an increasingly unlikely option, the report said.
Representatives for AT&T and T-Mobile did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Previous media reports indicated that AT&T was in last-ditch talks with Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) to sell to Leap substantial assets of T-Mobile. Other potential suitors that have been mentioned include Leap's larger prepaid rival MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) as well as Dish Network, which has nascent plans to build a wireless network.
Last week AT&T filed a motion with U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle asking that all court proceedings between AT&T and the Justice Department be stayed until Jan. 18 so that AT&T and Deutsche Telekom could "evaluate all options." The Justice Department joined in the motion and Huvelle granted it. The Justice Department is suing against the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile on antitrust grounds.
"AT&T is committed to working with Deutsche Telekom to find a solution that is in the best interests of our respective customers, shareholders and employees," AT&T said in a statement last week. "We are actively considering whether and how to revise our current transaction to achieve the necessary regulatory approvals so that we can deliver the capacity enhancements and improved customer service that can only be derived from combining our two companies' wireless assets."
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
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