WASHINGTON, December 5, 2011 – With its proposed merger facing roadblocks on two fronts, AT&T has withdrawn its Federal Communications Commission application in order to focus on the Department of Justice’s antitrust suit.
One of the ways that AT&T may try to gain the DOJ’s approval would be to sell off parts of the company it is attempting to acquire, T-Mobile. This sale would be in response to the DOJ’s assertion that the merger, as proposed, would severely decrease competition in the wireless market.
Some experts have speculated that AT&T will try to sell up to 40% of T-Mobile. T-Mobile has both customers and spectrum that it could sell, presumably to smaller, non-Verizon carriers. However, this sale would have to gain DOJ approval as well.
If AT&T does sell off some of T-Mobile’s assets, it would be defeating the purpose of its merger, to increase its customer base and gain valuable spectrum for further 4G rollout, the latter being the bigger blow to AT&T’s ability to compete with Verizon. If AT&T went through with this plan, it would likely improve its chances of DOJ approval, but not significantly.
Should AT&T fail to complete the merger it would owe Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s parent company $4 billion in break up fees, $3 billion in cash and $1 billion in spectrum. AT&T notified the Securities and Exchange Commission that if it were to take this $4 billion dollar hit, it would occur in the fourth quarter.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from the week of November 28.