AT&T announced today that it will buy DirecTV for $US95 per share, in a deal valued at almost $US50 billion ($48.5) and about $67 billion with debt.
The deal isn’t a surprise. The news leaked out last week through the Wall Street Journal and several other publications, but everyone was waiting for the final price.
Now, regulators will have to approve the deal, which will take several months.
With DirecTV, AT&T wouldn’t just be getting a paid TV service that covers much of the U.S. DirecTV also has a sizeable presence in South America. About 20% of DirecTV’s revenues last quarter came from its South America business, and it has a good amount of market share in the region.
AT&T also has a cable TV and broadband internet product called U-Verse, which is available in limited markets in the U.S.
The deal is just the latest in a series of consolidation moves between internet and paid TV providers. Comcast announced a few months ago that it would buy Time Warner for $US45 billion, making it the largest cable and broadband provider in the country. The deal is expected to go through this fall.
To appease regulators, AT&T will frame the DirecTV purchase as a way to provide blanket internet access to portions of the country that don’t have reliable broadband yet. Meanwhile, AT&T will have to prove to the government that its proposed merger won’t give it an unfair advantage over other TV and internet providers. However, AT&T could spin its own proposal as a counterweight to the Comcast deal.
There’s another big consolidation play that has everyone talking. Sprint is reportedly in talks to buy T-Mobile, which would create a strong third competitor to challenge AT&T and Verizon, the two wireless giants that control most of the business in the U.S. That deal could be announced this summer, assuming talks don’t fall through.
This isn’t AT&T’s first time trying to make a big acquisition. In 2011, it tried to buy T-Mobile, but the Department of Justice blocked the merger.
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