May 29, 2014, 4:15 AM
- Sprint (S) Chairman Masayoshi Son reasons that the rise in telecom and cable mergers should allow his company to buy rival T-Mobile (TMUS). Three big mergers have taken place in recent months with Verizon (VZ) acquiring Vodafone (VOD) for $130B, Comcast (CMCSA) buying Time Warner Cable (TWC) for $45B, and the AT&T (T) purchase of DirecTV (DTV) for $49B.
- "Access to the Internet is currently dominated by three giants with no sizable competitor," says Son.
- Although the company has not yet made a formal bid on T-Mobile, it looks to lay the framework for a future purchase.
- Antitrust authorities have previously frowned on such a deal, as it would cut the number of national competitors in the wireless industry to three from four.
May 20, 2014, 9:55 AM
- "I know there are reports out there that we are talking to Dish (DISH -2.3%). I can tell you now, that is someone's fantasy ... I don't think owning a satellite company is something I'm interested in at this point," says Verizon (VZ +0.1%) CEO Lowell McAdam in response to reports his company has held talks with Dish.
- As it is, there was plenty of skepticism Verizon, which just took on more than $60B in debt to help pay for Vodafone's Verizon Wireless stake, would turn its sights on Dish in response to AT&T's (T -0.8%) deal to acquire DirecTV.
- McAdam states Verizon's current focus is on rolling out OTT (Web-based) programming. The company bought out Intel's would-be Web TV unit in January, and has since said it's in talks with content providers to offer a Web/mobile TV service.
- If/when Verizon's service launches, it'll likely face competition from Dish, which plans to launch a Web TV service aimed at cord-cutters by year's end. It might also compete against AT&T, which hopes to launch a Web TV offering within 12-18 months of the DirecTV deal's closing.
- For each company, signing up content providers terrified of upsetting traditional pay-TV clients (and thus putting affiliate fees at risk) remains a challenge. Dish, for its part, has managed to get Disney/ESPN on board.
May 19, 2014, 10:00 AM
- If DirecTV's (DTV -2.2%) NFL Sunday Ticket deal isn't renewed on terms similar to the ones discussed, AT&T (T -2.1%) can walk away from the deal, AT&T discloses in an 8-K. DirecTV CEO Mike White says he's confident Sunday Ticket will be renewed by year's end.
- "The last six years for AT&T have been about data, the future is about delivering video at scale," declares AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. He states AT&T is only paying for 30% of the deal in cash to keep its powder dry. Among other things, Ma Bell plans to spend up to $9B at next year's huge low-frequency spectrum auction, and will also participate in an auction for higher-frequency AWS spectrum.
- Also: 1) AT&T plans to grow its grow its broadband footprint by 15M homes (largely in rural areas), in part by offering fixed wireless services. 2) White says DirecTV is looking for M&A opportunities in Latin America. 3) AT&T promises DirecTV's services "will continue to be available on a stand-alone basis at nationwide package prices that are the same for all customers" for 3 years. 4) Cost synergies are expected to total $1.6B/year.
- AT&T and DirecTV are both lower. DirecTV shareholders get 1.905 AT&T shares for each DirecTV share if AT&T trades below $34.90 at closing time, and 1.724 shares if it trades above $38.58. They get an equity payoff equal to $66.50/share if AT&T trades between those two figures.
- More on AT&T/DirecTV
May 19, 2014, 1:56 AM
- AT&T (T) intends to sell its $6B, 8.4% holding in América Móvil (AMX) in order to avoid conflicts of interest from its proposed $48.5B acquisition of DirecTV (DTV) and "facilitate the regulatory approval process in Latin America."
- AT&T's representatives on América Móvil's board are set to resign.
- The deal will give AT&T a large presence in a region in which DirecTV has 18M customers, making it one of the largest pay-TV operators in Central and South America - along with América Móvil.
May 18, 2014, 5:14 PM
- As anticipated, AT&T (T) confirms it's acquiring DirecTV (DTV) in a stock-and-cash deal amounting to $95/share ($28.50/share in cash), just short of $50B total.
- Both boards were unanimous in approving the transaction. The companies say it's accretive within 12 months after close, on free cash flow per share and adjusted EPS basis, and that they expect the deal will "pass muster" with regulators.
- Previous coverage
May 17, 2014, 9:09 PM
- Bloomberg reports AT&T (T) aims to announce a DirecTV (DTV) deal by Monday. BuzzFeed reports AT&T is on track to make an announcement by Sunday. "The deal is done," says a source.
- Past reports put the deal's price around $50B; DirecTV closed with a market cap of $44B on Friday. The company also has a $20.8B debt load that needs to be accounted for, partly offset by $3B in cash and $2B in investments.
- Buying DirecTV would give AT&T 20.3M U.S. subs and 11.9M Latin American subs, plus a 41% stake in Mexican satellite TV provider Sky Mexico (6.1M subs) and access to the NFL's Sunday Ticket package.
- Though not cheap, the deal might make it easier for AT&T to keep supporting its hefty dividend (current yield of 5%). Oppenheimer thinks a 50/50 cash/stock deal at $100/share would lead AT&T to pay out only 55% of its 2016 free cash flow through dividends vs. 65% otherwise.
- More on AT&T/DirecTV
May 13, 2014, 11:00 AM
- Bloomberg and WSJ reports suggesting AT&T (T -1.3%) is close to a mega-deal for DirecTV (DTV +0.7%) (possibly worth over $66B after factoring net debt) are leading investors to bet Ma Bell won't be interested in making a bid for Vodafone (VOD -2.2%), something the company has been frequently rumored to be interested in exploring.
- AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has already said "the window may be closing" on acquiring European assets, and has suggested he isn't thrilled with Vodafone's efforts to grow its wireline footprint via M&A.
- For his part, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has hinted he's open to a deal, but has also made it clear his company will continue its wireline expansion strategy in the interim.
- AT&T, which didn't sell off following prior DirecTV reports, is off moderately today, as the Street expresses some concern over the potential $100/share price tag mentioned in Bloomberg's report.
- DirecTV (DTV +0.7%), meanwhile, has pared its AH gains and is now only trading near $88. Worries about regulatory approval might be playing a role; a Bloomberg source states AT&T and DirecTV are expecting a 12-month regulatory process for the deal.
May 12, 2014, 5:10 PM
- Bloomberg reports AT&T (T) is in "advanced talks" to acquire DirecTV (DTV) for ~$100/share - a 15% premium to DirecTV's Monday close, and a 29% premium to where shares traded before the WSJ's May 1 report about deal talks.
- The acquisition price values DirecTV at $51B, or over $66B after factoring net debt.
- Bloomberg adds that under discussed plans, DirecTV CEO Mike White plans to retire after 2015.
- DTV now +5.6% AH to $92.
- Earlier: AT&T/DirecTV deal could reportedly be announced in two weeks
May 12, 2014, 4:32 PM
- The WSJ reports AT&T (T) and DirecTV (DTV) are discussing a cash/stock deal that could be announced in as soon as two weeks.
- The paper adds adds AT&T is likely to pay a premium to Dish's current stock price.
- Though a merger would be costly - DirecTV currently goes for over 17x 2015E EPS after factoring over $15B in net debt - AT&T investors have been signaling they aren't bothered by a deal that stands to increase AT&T's bundling opportunities, while also lower the telco's exposure to both its slumping wireline voice ops and a mobile business that's beginning to see tougher price competition.
- DTV +1.5% AH
- Last week: DirecTV reportedly talking with advisers about AT&T deal
May 7, 2014, 4:09 PM
May 1, 2014, 3:14 AM
- AT&T (T) has approached DirecTV (DTV) about buying the satellite-TV provider in a deal that could be worth at least $40B, the WSJ reports. DirecTV, whose market cap is $39.5B, is open to a deal.
- The combined company would have almost 26M pay TV subscribers vs the 30M that Comcast would have if it acquires Time Warner Cable.
- As with the Comcast-TWC deal, a major question is whether regulators would authorize a tie-up between AT&T and DirecTV, with broadband competition likely to be the main issue in any review.
Apr. 28, 2014, 12:40 PM
- The FCC plans to add 128.5MHz. of spectrum to its screening procedures for vetting mergers and spectrum sales. Sprint (S -4.1%) owns 101MHz. of the spectrum, via its acquisition of Clearwire and its valuable 2.5GHz. band spectrum (good for urban areas).
- The rule change, due for a May 15 vote, relates to the FCC's scrutiny of deals that give a carrier more than 1/3 of all spectrum in a particular market. Sprint will exceed that threshold in most big markets once the change goes through.
- Though Sprint won't be forced to sell spectrum in those markets, it could have a much harder time adding to its spectrum position within them via M&A - say, through a merger with T-Mobile USA (TMUS -3.6%).
- Separately, the FCC plans to provide tougher scrutiny of deals that would lead to a single carrier having over 1/3 of all quality low-frequency (sub-1GHz., better for buildings and rural areas) spectrum in a market, and to limit how much a carrier with such a spectrum position can bid in 2015's anticipated low-frequency auctions.
- AT&T (T +1.3%) and Verizon (VZ +1.5%), which together control a giant share of low-frequency U.S. mobile spectrum, are the companies targeted by those proposals. Sprint, T-Mobile, and other rivals have been pressuring the FCC to limit how much spectrum AT&T and Verizon can buy in the 2015 auction.
Mar. 13, 2014, 4:45 PM
- The FCC's approval of AT&T's (T -0.1%) purchase of Leap (LEAP +0.7%) and its high-frequency spectrum assets was widely expected. While regulators have been nervous about AT&T/Verizon's huge share of low-frequency mobile spectrum, smaller rivals Sprint and T-Mobile have considerable high-frequency assets of their own.
- In addition to the spectrum, the deal gives Ma Bell Leap's 4.6M prepaid subs and the Cricket brand. The latter will be replacing AT&T's own Aio prepaid brand.
- Leap shareholders have already approved the deal. They'll be getting $15/share ($1.2B) in cash, as well as proceeds from the sale of low-frequency spectrum Leap acquired for $204M.
Mar. 10, 2014, 12:02 PM
- As European 4G investments ramp, "the window may be closing" on acquiring continental wireless assets, AT&T (T -0.4%) CEO Randall Stephenson stated last week at a Morgan Stanley conference (transcript). At the same time, he argued "there are still other opportunities" in Europe, such as those tied to the development of "global" SIM cards that can work with any type of device worldwide.
- Those remarks were highlighted by a weekend FT column declaring Stephenson had "poured more cold water." on hopes of an AT&T bid for Vodafone (VOD -4.2%). The AT&T chief has already been reported to have told investors further cable acquisitions by Vodafone would complicate a bid.
- Meanwhile, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao states recently-acquired Kabel Deutschland will act as the "core" of a wireline business in Germany and possibly other countries. He adds Vodafone's wireline ops will expand to include security, Web hosting, and entertainment services (previous).
- Colao was cryptic when asked about Vodafone's reported efforts to acquire Spanish cable giant ONO. "We'll see what happens."
Mar. 7, 2014, 11:19 AM
- Sources tell Reuters (translation) Vodafone (VOD -2.8%) has raised its bid for Spanish cable giant ONO, and has reached a preliminary deal with ONO shareholders collectively possessing a controlling stake.
- No word on the specific offer price. Vodafone was previously reported to have made a rejected €7B ($9.6B) bid for ONO.
- One source states Vodafone plans to formally present its offer before ONO's board meets on March 13 to approve recently-announced plans to pursue an IPO.
- Vodafone is selling off on the report. A successful Vodafone bid for ONO, coming on the heels of its $14.2B Kabel Deutschland acquisition, could lower the odds AT&T (T +0.3%) will make an offer for the company once its 6-month waiting period ends. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has reportedly told investors further cable acquisitions by Vodafone would complicate a deal.
Feb. 25, 2014, 1:56 PM
- Dow Jones reports AT&T (T -1%), long rumored to be weighing a bid for Vodafone (VOD -1.1%), isn't thrilled with Vodafone's efforts to grow its cable assets via M&A, and would prefer the company focus on mobile.
- Vodafone, which just closed the Verizon Wireless deal, has been eying European wireline carriers as part of an effort to offer an end-to-end suite of telecom services in EU markets.
- The company gobbled up German cable provider Kabel Deutschland last year for $14.2B, and reportedly made a failed bid this year for Spanish cable giant ONO. There have also been rumors Vodafone is open to a bid for U.K. satellite TV/broadband provider BSkyB.
- Last month, AT&T gave up the opportunity to bid on Vodafone for six months, but is still reportedly open to making an offer afterwards.
- Vodafone shares have ticked lower on the report.
T vs. ETF Alternatives
AT&T Inc, through its subsidiaries and affiliates, provides wireless and wireline telecommunications services in the United States and internationally. The Company has three reportable segments: Wireless, Wireline, and Other.
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