Cingular got conditional approval from regulators for its $41 billion buyout of AT&T Wireless (AWE) .
The Justice Department will require Cingular to sell overlapping AT&T Wireless assets in 13 cities in 11 states. The divestitures will give consumers other service providers to choose from in markets that would otherwise be dominated by the combined company.
"Today's decision by the Department of Justice is an important step in the approval process," Cingular CEO Stan Sigman said in a press release. "We hope the merger process will continue to progress in an orderly and expeditious fashion."
On an earnings conference call Monday,
executives said it would take "a day or two" to close the deal and start integrating the two operations.
Cingular, the wireless joint venture between
and BellSouth, needs to divest AT&T Wireless' business in Litchfield, Conn., Fulton, Ky., Oklahoma City and Ponca City, Okla., and Lufkin, Texas. The Atlanta wireless shop also must sell its interests in other telcos in Athens, Ga., Topeka, Kan., Shreveport, La., Pittsfield, Mass., and St. Joseph, Mo.
The companies agreed in February to combine in a $15-a-share deal creating the largest U.S. cell phone service provider. The merger will vault Cingular past current No. 1
, a venture of New York telco
Late Monday, AT&T Wireless was up 13 cents at $14.93, while SBC was down 33 cents to $24.91 and BellSouth was down a nickel to $26.50.