T-Mobile to Acquire SunCom Wireless

T-Mobile USA Inc. has announced it will acquire regional operator SunCom Wireless Holdings Inc. for about $2.4 billion in cash and assumed debt.

The acquisition of the regional cellular carrier and its GSM/GPRS/EDGE network will give T-Mobile a deeper footprint in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Much like Verizon Wireless acquisition of Rural Cellular and AT&T Inc.s buyout of Dobson, the acquisition deepens T-Mobiles cellular footprint while reducing roaming costs. Postpaid-model SunCom has been providing roaming services to the operator since 2004, and T-Mobile said the acquisition will eliminate those costs and create operational synergies to the tune of about $1 billion while giving the cellco presence in 98 of the top 100 markets.

“As a result, this acquisition will fit very well with our strategy to grow abroad with mobile primarily within our current footprint within the context of market consolidation,” said Rene Obermann, chairman of T-Mobile USA parent company Deutsche Telekom AG.

T-Mobile said covered customers will rise from 244 million to 259 million.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of next year.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said it has placed its ratings on the Berwyn, Pa.-based SunCom, including the ‘B-‘ corporate credit rating, on CreditWatch with positive implications. SunCom had about $970 million of debt outstanding as of June 30.

“The expanded wireless footprint from the SunCom acquisition will be strategically important to T-Mobile USA,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Richard Siderman. “As SunCom’s assets are likely to be integrated into T-Mobile’s network, we expect to equalize our ratings on any SunCom debt outstanding after the acquisition with the ratings on Deutsche Telekom.”

T-Mobile USA Inc.

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