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Vestberg celebrates having some cash for once by dropping $3.1 billion on 5G spectrum

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Verizon has finally been unveiled as the no-so-mystery counter-bidder for Straight Path and its millimeter wave spectrum, having beaten AT&T to the punch.

Former Ericsson CEO Hands Vestberg, having recently landed the gig to head up Verizon’s network interests, clearly couldn’t resist the novelty of actually having a budget and decided to blow a chunk of it on Straight Path Communications and its high frequency spectrum, that is expected to come in handy once 5G comes to town. So drunk, apparently, was Vestberg on his new-found fiscal freedom that he even out-bid himself a couple of times, just for a laugh.

“Verizon now has all of the pieces in place to quickly accelerate the deployment of 5G,” gloated Vestberg. “Combined with our recent transactions with Corning Incorporated, XO Communications, and Prysmian Group, this is another step to build the next-generation network for our customers.”

While the acquisition is an all-stock deal, so laissez faire is Vestberg with Verizon greenbacks he’s even going to hand over $38 million in cold, hard cash to hated rival AT&T to compensate it for being gazumped. We assume it’s cash anyway, although it would be amusing if the termination fee was paid in stock.

The only people more delirious with unaccustomed wealth than Vestberg were those that held Straight Path stock a month ago. Back then it was trading at around $35 per share, so the agreed sale price of $184 per share amounts more than a 5-1 win. Less happy, however, will be those speculators who drove the price up to $230 earlier this week, presumably in anticipation of a continuation of the bidding war.

Verizon is especially excited about the potential of 5G fixed wireless, for which the 28 GHz and 39 GHz licenses it just paid three bill will come in handy. It seems to be all-in on that strategy, such that it didn’t even bother bidding in the recent 600 MHz auction, but you have to wonder how much money is left in the kitty after its many other recent acquisitions, so Vestberg might have to curb his consumerism for now.

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