Report: Three PE groups mulling Alltel acquisition

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, three groups of private equity firms are each mulling an acquisition of Alltel, but the company's strong performance in recent months coupled with the increasing noise surrounding such an acquisition could make Alltel too expensive for potential bidders. The report claims that Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners have teamed up to consider the acquisition. TPG Capital and Goldman Sachs' PE arm are also considering it. Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts are looking into it, too. Each of these potential buyers has begun a series of strategic meetings with Alltel's management team.

The company recently indicated to its shareholders that it was on the prowl when CEO Scott Ford told shareholders the carrier was reviewing "a broad spectrum of options" relating to the company's future. Alltel's shares have increased 7.8 percent on the year, which has made the acquisition process slower for would be buyers looking for a bargain. Comments like the one from Robert W. Baird and Company analyst William Power that Alltel could bring in a $70-a-share payday certainly aren't making it easy for the PE groups. Most analysts peg the likely pricetag for the company at about $30 million. 

Just yesterday the company's shares shot up 3 percent because one of its executives canceled a speaking engagement, leading many to believe a deal was imminent.

For more on Alltel's spectrum of options:
- read this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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