AT&T Buys Mexican Phone Firm for $1.88 Billion

The signage for an AT&T store is seen in New York October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

DALLAS — AT&T (T) is buying Nextel Mexico from NII Holdings (NIHDQ) for about $1.88 billion, minus the company’s debt. ​AT&T shares slipped 5 cents to $33.32 in premarket trading about two hours before the market open Monday.

The deal will give AT&T Inc. companies that operate under the name Nextel Mexico and hold all of the wireless properties in Mexico held by NII Holdings Inc. That includes spectrum licenses, network assets, retail stores and about 3 million subscribers. Nextel Mexico’s network covers approximately 76 million people.

AT&T said Monday that it plans to create the first North American Mobile Service area covering more than 400 million consumers and businesses in Mexico and the U.S. This will include Nextel Mexico’s subscribers.

AT&T plans to combine Nextel Mexico with lusacell, a Mexican wireless provider it agreed to acquire in November. The company said that this will help it to more quickly improve and expand its mobile Internet service to those in Mexico, particularly to individuals who live outside major metropolitan areas.

The acquisition is subject to a bankruptcy auction and approvals by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, which is currently overseeing the restructuring of NII Holdings. The company, based in Reston, Virginia, sought bankruptcy protection in September. The deal, expected to close in mid-2015, is also subject to regulatory approval by Mexico’s telecom regulator Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones.

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