Offer comes as nearly 100-percent premium over stock valuation; PCS and AWS spectrum in play
AT&T and has just announced that it has entered an agreement to buy regional carrier Leap Wireless for $15 per share in cash, gaining all of the carrier's assets and customers. Leap, which operates a consumer-facing carrier as Cricket Wireless, has both a CDMA and LTE network with coverage in 35 states and approximately 5 million subscribers.
AT&T makes no indication that it will continue to operate the CDMA network, however, and says that it will keep the Cricket brand running but offer users access to its own GSM and LTE networks instead. It will retain all of Cricket's retail locations, and use the brand as a way for AT&T to further push into the low-cost prepaid market.
The other likely reason for this purchase is for Leap's spectrum holdings, which land in the PCS and AWS bands covering 137 million people. This spectrum matches up well to AT&T's current spectrum holdings, and should be quickly implemented with its current network.
The offer of $15 per share is nearly double the day's closing stock price of $7.98, a deal that no shareholders are likely to take issue with. Given that Leap currently has about $2.8 billion in net debt on its books, this deal highlights the value AT&T places on these spectrum holdings and retail locations. In all, this seems to be a smart move for AT&T in terms of customers and spectrum holdings.