AT&T

(T) - Get Report

aims to raise about $7.9 billion to $9.7 billion by selling shares of its wireless unit in what would be the largest initial public offering in North America.

The company plans to sell 306 million shares in the U.S. and Canadian markets at a price of $26 to $32 a share, according to documents filed Tuesday with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

.

The telecommunications giant also will sell 54 million shares of the AT&T Wireless Group outside the U.S. and Canada, bringing the total the company could raise to $11.5 billion at the higher price.

Underwriters led by

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

,

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

and

Salomon Smith Barney

, a unit of

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

, have been granted an additional 54 million shares, which also could be sold in the initial offering, bringing the total offering to $13.3 billion. But underwriters' fees typically increase when overallotment shares are sold.

Ten percent of the shares have been reserved for AT&T employees.

All told, the company could raise more than double the $5.47 billion garnered by

United Parcel Service

(UPS) - Get Report

in a U.S.-record-setting

IPO in November.

Bloomberg News reported that the offering would rank as the sixth-biggest IPO worldwide, behind sales by

NTT Mobile Communications Network

,

Enel

,

Deutsche Telekom

,

British Petroleum

and

Telecom Italia

, citing

Thomson Financial Securities Data

in Newark, N.J.

New investors would own 15.6% of the wireless unit, while the company would retain 82.5% to 84.4%, depending on whether the underwriters' additional allotment of shares is sold in the offering.

AT&T has applied to have the tracking stock trade on the

New York Stock Exchange

under the symbol AWE.

"They're one of the few companies out there that's got the capability of going coast to coast," said Jeff Pittsburg, an analyst at

Pittsburg Institutional

, an institutional research and brokerage boutique. He predicted AT&T's stock would run up until the IPO date, which is not yet scheduled, then fall in price, following a trend for companies with tracking stocks. Analysts expect the company to begin a road show next week before an initial public offering at the end of April.

Pittsburg rates AT&T shares a buy. His firm does not perform underwriting, and Pittsburg was unsure whether it would be able to buy shares of the AT&T tracking stock.

The first $7 billion raised in the offering would be used by the wireless unit for expansion and acquisitions, while the remainder would be used by AT&T itself for general corporate purposes, the company said.