Updated from 12:25 p.m. EDT
( BLS) announced Tuesday that it would buy the stakes of the regional wireless company
BellSouth Carolina PCS
that it does not already own for roughly $885 million.
Atlanta-based BellSouth plans to acquire the 20% interest held by
, a part of
, as well as the 10% stake owned by
, a unit of
BellSouth also said in a statement that it would buy out the remaining ownership interests, which are held by 30 independent telephone companies and by
Cook Inlet PCS
, an Alaskan company.
In total, BellSouth is acquiring the 44.24% interest of BellSouth Carolina PCS -- a carrier that provides service in North Carolina, South Carolina and Northeast Georgia -- it does not own currently. The move still must gain approval from the boards of BellSouth and CP&L Energy. Duke Energy's board has already approved the deal.
After the transactions, the BellSouth Carolina PCS property will be integrated into the joint venture of BellSouth and
( SBC), which are in the process of combining their wireless operations to form the nation's second-largest wireless carrier. The combined entity now expects to have about 19 million subscribers, said Jeff Battcher, a BellSouth spokesman.
"This accomplishes our goal of expanding our wireless base and ownership," Mark Feidler, chief operating officer of the BellSouth SBC joint venture, said in a statement. "Our partners wanted liquidity, and we wanted to continue to expand on the nationwide wireless joint venture of BellSouth and PCS."
DukeNet, which initially invested $106 million to get a 20% stake of BellSouth Carolina PCS, plans to shift its strategy and focus on its core fiber-optic business.
M.H. Smith Jr., president of DukeNet, acknowledged in a statement that the company's partnership with BellSouth had been "extremely beneficial" and had led the company into the telecommunications industry.
Investors showed little reaction to BellSouth's plans. BellSouth finished Tuesday regular trading up 69 cents, or 2%, at $39.31.