Optical/IP Networks

Leap to Consider MetroPCS Bid

Low-cost regional wireless operator Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP) says that it will consider the $7.5 billion bid from larger rival MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) Upon announcing the buyout review, Leap also said that its current CFO, Amin Khalifa, is leaving the company.

MetroPCS made an unsolicited bid for Leap on Tuesday. The operator says that it wants to acquire Leap Wireless for $5.5 billion in stock plus $2 billion in acquired debt.

Leap has hired Goldman Sachs & Co. and Jeffrey Williams & Co. LLC to check out the financial aspects of the deal.

A deal between the low-cost rivals has long been rumored to be in the cards. If the buyout goes ahead, the resulting operator will be one of the of the largest remaining local operators in the U.S., with around four million users.

The deal is another sign of consolidation in the local carrier market in the U.S. This wave of buyouts has largely been driven by the major operators, such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless , which have bought the smaller carriers to bolster their coverage and capacity across the country.

For instance, AT&T bought Dobson in June this year. Verizon snapped up Rural Cellular a month later. (See Verizon Ropes Rural Cellular and AT&T to Buy Dobson for $5.1B.)

Private equity firms have also muscled into the market. TPG Capital made a $27.5 billion bid for No. 1 local player Alltel Corp. (NYSE: AT) in May of this year. (See Alltel Accepts $27.5B Buyout Offer.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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