Today AT&T announced that it is selling its wireless and wireline optimation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to Liberty Latin America for $1.95 billion in cash at closing. AT&T will keep control of its FirstNet responsibilities as well as DIRECTV in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“This transaction is a result of our ongoing strategic review of our balance sheet and assets to identify opportunities for monetization,” said John Stephens, AT&T chief financial officer. “But doing so only made sense if we received a fair value from a buyer that is committed to taking this well-run business, with its skilled employees and loyal customer base, and help it thrive. Liberty Latin America has a strong reputation for quality of service, and we believe they have the experience to build on the success of these operations.”
“The combination of AT&T’s leading mobile and wired businesses with Liberty Puerto Rico’s leading high-speed broadband and TV business will create a strong and competitive integrated communications player,” said Balan Nair, president and CEO, Liberty Latin America. “At Liberty Latin America, we are focused on investing in digital infrastructure, innovation and 5G networks and on delivering a friendly customer service experience. This transaction is evidence of that, and we are confident that this new combination will be good for our customers and our employees, including those joining us from AT&T.”
This deal is subject to review by the FCC and the Department of Justice. The two companies say they expect the deal to close within 6 to 9 months. AT&T says this is part of a plan to “de-levering” the company as it pays off its $164 billion in debt from buying DIRECTV and Time Warner Inc among other expenses. Recently AT&T sold its 9.5% share of Hulu back to Hulu for $1.43 billion. According to reports, AT&T also used that money to pay off its debt. AT&T’s CEO recently said that reducing AT&T’s debt is a top priority for AT&T this year and AT&T has reportedly considered selling its AT&T Sports Nets which may help reach that goal.
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