AT&T Talks Asset Sales With Rivals In Time For First Hearing

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It should come as no surprise that AT&T may have to make a few sacrifices to settle their pending T-Mobile deal, but a new report today reveals who exactly AT&T has been starting conversations with.

In order to help grease the wheels, AT&T is reportedly in talks with MetroPCS and Leap Wireless (parent company of insectoid bargain carrier Cricket) regarding the sale of spectrum access and subscribers.

AT&T appears to be engaging in preliminary talks with both companies, but Bloomberg’s sources report that they have also reached out to a handful of other companies about striking a deal. That short list includes CenturyLink, Dish Network, and perhaps most interestingly, Sprint-Nextel.

In light of the Department of Justice lawsuit filed on August 31, AT&T’s plan to sell off assets is meant to minimize concerns that an AT&T/T-Mobile merger would reduce competition and lead to higher prices for consumers. AT&T’s talks with their smaller competitors are likely to be very informal at this point, which could work out to AT&T’s advantage. By engaging in preliminary talks with competitors AT&T can say that they’re making efforts to address DOJ concerns and put on a cooperative face for the public (and their shareholders) in time for their first hearing on the 21st.

Even so, Bloomberg reports that even if an asset purchasing agreement were to be struck, it still may not be enough to sway the Justice Department. AT&T seems to be testing the waters here to see what kind of reaction their initial talks get them, but we’ll see how things really play out in just a few days.