AT&T Divestiture Talks Wane

In yet another sign that AT&T Inc. could be forced to walk away from its pending acquisition of T-Mobile USA, talks to sell assets as part of a strategy to salvage the $39 billion deal have gone cold.

That’s according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited unidentified sources familiar with the matter.

The sources told the newspaper that AT&T is more likely to pursue alternatives to a full-blown merger, including potentially taking a stake in a smaller carrier or entering into a joint venture to share network technology, rather than battle the U.S. Department of Justice in federal court where an antitrust lawsuit against the merger has been temporarily put on hold.

Talks to divest assets worth more than 30 percent of the merger’s value to Leap Wireless International Inc. have broken down amid concerns that such an arrangement still wasn’t likely to gain approval from the Justice Department, the Journal reported, citing the unnamed sources. The Justice Department sued AT&T over the summer to block the merger over concerns that the deal between the nation’s second- and fourth-largest wireless providers is anticompetitive.

Dallas-based AT&T has until Jan. 12 to file a report with a federal district court in Washington, D.C., explaining whether it still plans to buy T-Mobile USA, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle reportedly has granted requests to stay antitrust lawsuits against the merger, including separate cases filed by the Justice Department, Sprint Nextel Corp. and Cellular South Inc.

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