AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and prepaid wireless provider Leap Wireless International Inc. (NASDAQ:LEAP) have entered into an agreement for AT&T to acquire Leap for $15 per share in cash. Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T will acquire all of Leap’s stock and wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores and approximately 5 million subscribers. As of April 15, 2013, Leap had $2.8 billion of net debt. Leap shareholders will also receive a contingent right entitling them to the net proceeds received on the sale of Leap’s 700 Mhz “A Block” spectrum in Chicago, which Leap purchased for $204 million in August 2012.
Leap’s network covers approximately 96 million people in 35 U.S. states. Leap currently operates -- under the Cricket brand -- a 3G CDMA network, as well as a 4G LTE network covering 21 million people in these areas, and has 3,400 employees.
AT&T will retain the Cricket brand name, provide Cricket customers with access to AT&T’s award-winning 4G LTE mobile network, utilize Cricket’s distribution channels, and expand Cricket’s presence to additional U.S. cities. The result will be increased competition, better device choices, improved customer care and a significantly enhanced mobile Internet experience for consumers seeking low-cost prepaid wireless plans.
The combined company will have the financial resources, scale and spectrum to better compete with other major national providers for customers interested in low-cost prepaid service. Cricket’s employees, operations and distribution will jump start AT&T’s expansion into the highly competitive prepaid segment.
The acquisition includes spectrum in the PCS and AWS bands covering 137 million people and is largely complementary to AT&T’s existing spectrum licenses. Immediately after approval of the transaction, AT&T plans to put Leap’s unutilized spectrum – which covers 41 million people – to use in furthering its 4G LTE deployment and providing additional capacity and enhanced network performance for customers’ growing mobile Internet usage.