According to MarketWatch, Sprint Nextel, the number three US wireless carrier, has agreed to buyout yet another of its affiliates, iPCS. Having just recently finalized a deal to acquire Virgin Mobile USA, Sprint is looking to further shore up its customer base with the addition of iPCS’ 700,000 subscribers. Not to mention, the acquisition will mark the end of long and drawn out legal battles with iPCS and should save Sprint Nextel some $30 million/year starting in 2010.
Sprint is no stranger to gobbling up its own affiliates. As of 2005, Sprint had 10 wireless affiliates across the US. During that same year, Sprint Nextel acquired three of them: US Unwired, Gulf Coast Wireless, and IWO Holdings. In early 2006, Sprint gobbled up the largest of its affiliates, Alamosa PCS, and has since gone on to buy out Ubiquitel, Enterprise, and Northern PCS leaving only three standing (iPCS, Shentel, and Swiftel) until today.
The proposed deal to acquire Midwest-based iPCS has Sprint shelling out $831 million in cash and assumed debt. More specifically, Sprint Nextel will pay $24/share in cash for all the common stock of iPCS, a 34% premium over the closing price of iPCS on Oct. 16. Sprint will also assume about $405 million in iPCS debt.
Luckily for current iPCS customers, because they are already using a Sprint-branded service, they shouldn’t (in theory) notice any disruption in their service during the transition. For more, give the official press release a once-over.