AT&T Inc is approaching smaller rivals including MetroPCS Communications Inc and Leap Wireless International Inc to sell spectrum and subscribers as part of an attempt to save its US$39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA Inc, two people with direct knowledge of the situation said.
AT&T has also reached out to CenturyLink Inc, Dish Network Corp and Sprint Nextel Corp to gauge their interest in buying assets, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private.
AT&T, based in Dallas, is seeking ways to salvage its agreement to acquire T-Mobile USA from Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom AG after the US Department of Justice sued on Aug. 31 to stop the deal. The talks with competitors are preliminary and may not lead to a deal, and the department may also deem the remedies insufficient, the people said.
AT&T, which would become the largest US wireless operator with the purchase, has said it will fight the Justice Department in court and has asked for an expedited hearing for the case. The company and the department are scheduled to meet in court tomorrow to explore whether a settlement may be reached.
Sprint, the third-biggest US mobile operator, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the T-Mobile deal on Sept. 6.
Spokesmen for AT&T, MetroPCS, Leap, CenturyLink, Dish, Sprint and Bank of America declined to comment.
AT&T has agreed to compensate Deutsche Telekom with US$3 billion in cash, as well as wireless spectrum and roaming agreements, if the deal is not completed. Deutsche Telekom has also said it will work to close the deal.
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