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5G bidding war: Verizon tops AT&T for Straight Path

The Broadband Report

May, 11 2017, 6:48 AM

Verizon has won a bidding war with AT&T for Virginia-based Straight Path, a major holder of wireless spectrum. The deal is seen as part of Verizon's strategy to offer next-generation 5G wireless broadband services.

According to The Wall Street Journal late Wednesday night, Verizon will pay $3.1 billion for Straight Path. The deal was confirmed on Thursday.

AT&T announced a $1.6 billion deal for Straight Path last month.

The WSJ says AT&T declined to match the Verizon offer, which was made Monday.

AT&T had said the acquisition would position itself for delivery of forth-coming, faster 5G wireless services.

Even at a lower price, the deal was expensive, with AT&T agreeing to pay $95.63 per share, a premium of more than triple Straight Path's close ahead of the initial announcement. Straight Path is one of the biggest spectrum holders.

Straight Path holds 735 licenses in the 39 GHz band and another 133 in the 28 GHz band across the U.S.

Shares of Straight Path tumbled 20 percent Thursday before the opening bell as AT&T bowed out.

Verizon will pay $184 per share, a 400 percent premium to Straight Path's closing price of $36.48 just before AT&T made its bid in April.

That bid arrived shortly after Straight Path paid more than $100 million in a settlement with The Federal Communications Commission for "squatting" on wireless spectrum licenses. The FCC considers spectrum licenses a "public good" and requires holders of spectrum licenses to use them for their intended purpose.

Under that settlement, Straight Path also had to remit some licenses back to the FCC and sell the rest of its portfolio.

Verizon and Straight Path's boards have approved the deal and they expect it to close within nine months.

Note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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