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Analyst: Verizon Could Counter AT&T’s Bid for Leap Wireless

Mon, 07/15/2013 - 12:57pm
Ben Munson, Wireless Week

On the heels of AT&T’s late Friday announcement of its plans to buy Leap Wireless for approximately $1.2 billion, talk of a possible counter-bid from Verizon has already surfaced.

The Street cited Citigroup analyst Michael Rollins as saying Verizon might submit a higher offer for Leap. Rollins pointed out that AT&T buying Leap would put Verizon further behind its chief rival in terms of wireless spectrum per million subscribers.

The Street’s report also cites Oppenheimer analyst Timothy Horan as saying T-Mobile may have been previously involved in a bidding war with AT&T for Leap, and that T-Mobile may re-enter with an improved bid.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal pointed out options trades on Leap the day the acquisition was announced. As Trade Alert noted, 95 percent of the trades were “call” options and could profit heavily from the deal, leading it to believe traders were tipped off about the deal.

Leap’s stock has spiked more than 100 percent since the deal was announced and is currently trading about the $15 per share price AT&T has bid.

But if public interest groups like Public Knowledge have their say, the deal won’t go through at all. In a statement Friday, Public Knowledge senior vice present Harold Feld said AT&T already has all the spectrum it needs and it should focus on fully utilizing it rather than buying out its competitors.

“This is getting ridiculous. The Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission need to say 'no' to this latest effort by AT&T to buy out its rivals and rebuild 'Ma Cell,'" Feld concluded.

In its statement Friday announcing the acquisition, AT&T said that 29.8 percent of Leap’s outstanding shares had already committed to voting in favor of the transaction.

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