Private investors buy US mobile firm


Private investors buy US mobile firm
US mobile phone network Alltel is to be taken over by two private equity firms in a deal worth $27.5 billion (£14 billion).

In a statement America's fifth-largest wireless company revealed that TPG Capital and Goldman Sachs subsidiary GS Capital Partners (GSCP) had agreed to pay $71.50 (£36.28) a share for its stock.

The offer represents a ten per cent premium on Alltel's closing share price of $65.21 (£33) on Friday.

Unanimously agreed by the board of the Arkansas-based telecoms firm, the sale is expected to be completed by either the end of 2007 or the beginning of 2008.

Alltel's shareholders will be asked to back the takeover deal, which will also be subject to regulatory approval, at a special meeting.

The company, which has some 12 million customers across the US, said that its board were recommending the sale following a strategic review of its operations.

Alltel chief executive Scott Ford, who will remain in his current role after the takeover, said the deal would provide "substantial" value to the company's shareholders.

"This transaction delivers substantial and certain value to our shareholders while providing the company with long-term partners who share our commitment to our customers, employees and the communities we serve," he said.

"TPG and GSCP are long-term investors who are willing to make the investments necessary to continue to grow our wireless business in all of our markets," the Alltel boss added.

Commenting on the deal TPG founding partner Jim Coulter praised Alltel's "terrific management team", a sentiment shared by Richard Friedman, head of Goldman Sachs' merchant banking division.

"Alltel has a long history of growth through strategic acquisitions, combined with a strong focus on customer service," said Mr Friedman, who said the investment bank intended to support the company's continued strategies for growth.

Alltel was formed in 1983 following a merger between the Allied Telephone and Mid-Continent telecoms companies.

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