announced this evening the postponement of its
initial public offering, citing volatile market conditions. The move is likely to cast a pall over other wireless offerings as companies reassess their chances, given the beating telcos shares have taken in recent months.
Verizon Wireless' statement, which does not indicate a new timeline for the offering, follows a
Credit Suisse First Boston
report published today that suggested the $5 billion offering would be delayed until next year. The IPO was planned for this fall and would have been increased to at least $10 billion if market conditions looked favorable, according to one telecom banker familiar with those plans. Verizon Wireless is a venture between
and the U.K.'s
Any wireless telecom player looking to get a deal done now with U.S. investors will have a hard time, says
analyst Anthony Ferrugia. "Telecom in the U.S. is pretty weak across the board, including wireless," he says. "Anyone looking at wireless in the U.S. is going to face the same thing."
This could be especially bad news for
, which announced plans last month to float 15% of mobile-phone operator
. Others that may also think twice about approaching wireless-shy U.S. investors now are
of the Netherlands,
of Spain and
of Switzerland. They had all planned to go public this year and would have almost certainly planned to bring their roadshows to U.S. shores.
The delay by Verizon Wireless could also affect
, which plans to announce exactly when and how it will issue the remaining 85% of its
tracking stock when it reports its third-quarter earnings, according to one person familiar with the plan. Analysts say, however, that they don't expect the company to hold a second offering but rather will distribute the remaining shares in the form of an AT&T dividend, offer them in exchange for parent company shares or arrange some combination of the two. AT&T officials declined to comment.
Proceeds from the Verizon Wireless offering were to be used to build its network and acquire additional spectrum, wireless licenses and other wireless assets. But the company is likely to use debt, if necessary, to help finance December's spectrum auction, according to the CSFB report. (CSFB has a strong buy rating for Verizon.)
"Verizon is not a company that would have problems with financing if or when it needs it," Ferrugia of A.G. Edwards says. (A.G. Edwards has an accumulate rating for Verizon and hasn't performed underwriting for the company.)