Verizon Quiet on Alltel Asset Sale
Blackstone, The Carlyle Group LLC , and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) are all reported to be interested, according to Bloomberg. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and U.S. Cellular Corp. (NYSE: USM) are said to be bidders, too.
Verizon won't confirm any of it. “I can’t comment,” a Verizon corporate spokesman told Unstrung on Tuesday. “If and when there’s a deal in place, yes, but not before. We never comment on rumor and speculation.”
In January, Verizon completed the $28 billion deal to buy Alltel from GS Capital Partners and TPG Inc. (See Vodafone Confirms $28.1B Alltel Takeover and Verizon Completes Alltel Deal.) Now the FCC wants Verizon to unload businesses supporting up to 2.1 million customers in more than 20 states.
The initial private equity deal to buy Alltel for $27.5 billion in 2007 capped a wave of similar PE interest in tech companies that had included Freescale Semiconductor Inc. and Philips Semiconductors (NYSE: PHG) in 2006. (See Alltel Accepts $27.5B Buyout Offer.)
Now there are signs that private equity firms are back on the prowl. This time, however, the targets appear to be less ambitious.
Recent reports have linked Gores Group LLC to the possible buyout of a unit from ailing Nortel Networks Ltd. . The PE firm is said to be interested in Nortel's media gateway and MSS multiservice switch product lines. (See NSN Linked to Nortel Asset Bid.)
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung