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AT&T to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion

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NEW DELHI: The American telecom giant AT&T has decided to take over pay TV brand DirecTV for $48.5 billion, but will sell its 73 million publicly listed shares from America Movil in Latin America considering the strong presence DirecTV has in the video market there.

Combined the company would have roughly 26 million video subscribers, most from the DirecTV side, and a broadband network covering 70 million customer locations. 

“This is an unique opportunity that will redefine the video entertainment industry and create a company that is able to offer new bundles and deliver content to consumers across multiple screens – mobile devices, TVs, laptops, cars and even airplanes,” said AT&T’s chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson in a statement.

Meanwhile, the regulator is examining the three-month old proposal by Comcast Corp for a $45 billion takeover of Time Warner.

AT&T will not pay any fee to DirecTV if they do not get approval from the regulator.

Following the deal, the telecom giant will expand high-speed broadband to 15 million customer locations, primarily in rural areas, in four years.

AT&T will acquire DirecTV in a stock-and-cash transaction for $95 per share based on last Friday closing price. DirecTV shareholders will own around 14.5 to 15.8 per cent of AT&T shares. AT&T expects cost synergies to exceed $1.6 billion on an annual run rate basis by three years after closing.

DirecTV has 20.3 million American subscribers, while AT&T serves 5.6 million video customers connected to its U-Verse network. But DirecTV’s subscriber growth has slowed in recent months as it does not have a landline network to deliver high-speed internet services to homes, unlike phone and cable TV companies.

The deal will assist DirecTV to take on the combined entity between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. If combined, AT&T-DirecTV would serve roughly 26 million pay-TV customers. That would be less than the 30 million Comcast would have if regulators approve its purchase of Time Warner Cable.

The transaction enables the combined company to offer consumer bundles that include video, high-speed broadband and mobile services using all of its sales channels — AT&T’s 2,300 retail stores and thousands of authorised dealers and agents of both companies, an AT&T spokesperson said.

For customers who only want a broadband service and may choose to use video through an over-the-top (OTT) service like Netflix or Hulu, the combined company will offer stand-alone wireline broadband service at speeds of at least 6 Mbps (where feasible) in areas where AT&T offers wireline IP broadband service at guaranteed prices for three years.

AT&T will continue to offer DirecTV service on a stand-alone basis at nationwide package prices for at least three years after closing.

In 2015, AT&T will bid at least $9 billion provided there is sufficient spectrum available in the auction to provide AT&T a viable path to at least a 2×10 MHz nationwide spectrum footprint. 

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