AT&T has announced that it will acquire Nextel from NII Holdings for $1.9 billion, minus the group’s unpaid debt.
The purchase cements the US-based operator’s new position in the Mexican market following the completion of its acquisition of Iusacell for $2.5 billion.
The American firm is taking over all of NII’s Mexican holding, covering its spectrum licences, infrastructure and subscribers – of which it has around 3 million.
AT&T believes that combining the two smaller Mexican operators will allow it to “more quickly improve and expand its mobile internet service to the benefit of millions of Mexicans, particularly those who live outside major metropolitan areas, than it could otherwise do without the transaction”.
Between them, the two operators had 11.6 million subscribers at the end of 2014, which constitutes an 11% share of the market. Even combined, the two firms still trail behind Telcel’s 70.9 million and Movistar’s 21 million.
The acquisition requires approval from regulator IFT in order to close, as well as approval from the US court tasked with restructuring NII Holdings. In addition, a bankruptcy auction must take place. However, AT&T is confident that the deal will close in mid 2015, “based on its recent positive experience with Mexico’s focused regulatory review and approval process”.