Verizon Wireless Assets Attract Big-Name Bidders

A prominent private-equity firm, two buyout companies, AT&T Inc. (T) and U.S. Cellular Corp. (USM) are among the entities said to be bidding for the assets Verizon Wireless must divest because of the Alltel Corp. acquisition.

The deadline for bids was last week; the auction is private, though, so word on the competing bidders is coming from anonymous sources.

Blackstone Group LP is the reported private-equity firm, while KKR & Co. and Carlyle Group are the two buyout experts.

The federal government is requiring Verizon to sell businesses serving 2.1 million customers in more than 20 states, as a condition of approving the Verizon-Alltel merger. That deal made Verizon the largest phone company in the United States.

Analysts say the assets for auction could go for up to $3.5 billion.

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