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Cingular Wins AT&T Wireless War

Its $41 billion cash offer is too rich for Vodafone's blood.
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Updated from Feb. 16

Cingular, a joint venture of






, has won the two-way bidding war for

AT&T Wireless


with a $41 billion, or $15 dollar a share, cash offer.

Cingular beat out Britain's


(VOD) - Get Free Report

in a weekend of maneuvering in which both suitors raised their offers at least once, following a Friday deadline for bids.

A third suitor, Japan's

NTT Docomo

, never wound up making a bid.

Cingular started it all about a month ago, when its initial bid for AT&T Wireless -- thought to be worth $11 a share -- prompted the target company to undertake a formal auction process, which culminated in a round of counter bids over the weekend.

The acquisition makes Cingular the nation's largest wireless carrier with46 million customers in 49 states, coverage in 97 of the top 100 markets and the largest GSM network. The combined 2003 annual revenues of the two companies is about $32 billion.

The deal still requires regulatory and shareholder approval, but could be completed by the end of the year.

Cingular said it expects to reap more than $1 billion in operating expense and capital spending savings in 2006 and more than $2 billion in annual savings beginning in 2007.

SBC will continue to hold 60% of the enlarged Cingular and BellSouth's stake will remain at 40%. Management control will remain evenly split.