With the US slowing down carrier consolidation, Europe may be the next step in AT&T expansion

CEO of AT&T Randall Stephenson said his company is looking towards Europe for possible carrier acquisitions in the future, citing the fact that there are just more opportunities across the Atlantic. Speaking at an investor conference in New York, Stephenson explained that Verizon's recent buyout of Vodafone's 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless has opened his eyes to the potential of carriers in Europe.

AT&T's attempt at a $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile two years ago was swiftly shut down by the US government, indicating to the carrier that the prospects of more consolidation in the US wireless industry on that scale have been seriously cut back.

"We have pretty much written off that any kind of large-scale deal in our sector is going to get done ... going from four players to three is kind of a threshold issue."

Said Stephenson, referring to more large carrier buyouts in the US. Europe, on the other hand, has a wide variety of carriers of all sizes and types — each being a possible foreign acquisition target for AT&T to expand overseas. Stephenson's potential plans for Europe involve large investments in networks that see potential in shifting to increase data usage by customers and capitalize on that new increase.

Naturally there are issues to be faced with a move into the European market, both in terms of the market differences between the region and the US as well as public policy issues. The way spectrum licenses are handled in Europe pose potential hurdles to whether or not money is well spent in certain countries, as does the general decline of revenues for carriers due to increased competition.

Although we have seen some relatively big moves as of late in the US with T-Mobile purchasing MetroPCS and Sprint receiving a strategic investment from SoftBank, it's clear that if AT&T is looking to expand its operations it will have to do so in foreign markets.

Source: WSJ


Reader comments

AT&T CEO eyeing Europe for future carrier acquisitions


If Att thought it was tough with the US regulators. Just wait ill they have to deal with the EU ones. That should provide for some entertainment next year,

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But I feel bad that you guys might soon have to suffer the horrible service of Ain't talking today, ain't texting tomorrow. That has always been and always will be what AT&T stands for. Happy to be on Sprint with some very nice lte speeds. AT&T on the other hand never had service anywhere around here.

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interesting experience considering Neilsen is putting at&t ahead of verizon on reliability, that and they have the fastest LTE network. All I know is here in texas at&t is #1 in several major cities.

Nope, here in Southern Texas AT&T is #2 (bathroom equivelant) in our major cities. People hate them and want to fling #2 at them. I left them 9 years ago when they bought and ruined PrimeCo.

Smart man. I would not wish AT&Trash service and policies on anyone.

AT&T is 'Less bars in more places' and 'Rethink Possible ways to fail and crap the customer.'

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Companies like At&T behave very differently outside of their home turf. Take for example Telefonica: Their plans in the UK (branded as O2) crash any plan they offer in Spain.

I'm usually not one to bash the US market too much compared to the EU market (yes US carriers have gained too much power, I also enjoy being able to go from LA to NYC and never pay for roaming tho)... That being said, I can't imagine any way in which the EU gains anything by AT&T acquiring any of their carriers. Should be amusing to watch the debacle either way... Why would AT&T their cards like this agso easearly on tho? I can't imagine the early public backlash would help, maybe they're hoping it'll die out by the time they make a move?

You should bash the US markets. I wish we had the regulations like Canada and Europe here in the states. Corporations make up their own rules as they go along and are rarely challenged on their BS. Even when they are caught the penalties are in a few million dollars when these companies are getting ten's of billions a quarter. The telecommunications industry needs to be heavily regulated here in the US disparately.

AT&T will probably have a huge wake-up slap if they try to introduce US policies over here in the UK (Mainland Europe will be even worse than us). People just won't bother with them.

Quite happy with 33 pounds (53 dollars) a month for 2000 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited data (with tethering) thanks. We don't need AT+T.

Unlimited everything (5GB at LTE speed) for $46 with taxes and fees here on Solavei for my lady (Tmobile). I have Tmobile $30 plan w/ 100mins, unlimited text and data (5GB LTE)'s not all bad here.

So they sell a bunch of towers here, where population density is low and set their sights on Europe, where population density is high, service areas small, hence huge profits from a small investment. AT&T, need to keep building out your network into less profitable rural areas, instead of eloping the Paris with our dollars! Same goes for Verizon!

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