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Cable Tech

AT&T nears sale of DirecTV stake to TPG – report

AT&T and TPG are in exclusive talks for the private equity company to snap up a minority stake in DirecTV, a deal that would help AT&T cut into its pile of $150 billion in net debt, Reuters reported Friday.

Reuters said the deal could value DirecTV at more than $15 billion, though it was not immediately known what TPG would be willing to pay for a slice of the struggling satellite TV service provider.

Word that TPG was closing in on the deal follows months of rumor and speculation about the fate of DirecTV, the satellite TV service that AT&T acquired in 2015 for almost $50 billion. Bidders in the auction have reportedly included Apollo Global Management and Churchill Capital Corporation IV.

TPG, said by Reuters to be in the lead for a stake in DirecTV, could have the money and the bandwidth to do the deal. It recently teamed with Patriot Media Management on the $8.1 billion sale of Astound Broadband – a company that includes RCN, Grande Communications, Wave Broadband and enTouch Systems – to Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners.

In November, CNBC reported that AT&T, which has been under pressure from investors to divest certain assets, was pursuing a path involving the sale of a "significant minority" stake in AT&T's broader pay-TV business, including DirecTV, U-verse and its streaming pay-TV business, which is now all housed under the AT&T TV umbrella following the recent sales halt of the AT&T TV Now OTT-TV product.

DirecTV has struggled under AT&T's ownership amid a broader subscriber decline that's hit most traditional US pay-TV service providers. For Q3 2020, AT&T lost 590,000 "premium" pay-TV subs (a mix of DirecTV and satellite and U-verse IPTV customers) and 37,000 OTT-TV subs.

AT&T is scheduled to post Q4 2020 results on the morning of Wednesday, January 27.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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