Mystery telco outbids AT&T for Straight Path

Just as AT&T thought it was getting its 5G roadmap in place, Straight Path Communications has announced its $1.6 billion bid has been outdone by a ‘multi-national telecommunications company’.

The identity of the ‘multi-national telecommunications company’ remains a secret for the moment, however some might put forward some ideas who it might be, **cough cough Verizon**, though will be keeping its own thoughts to itself. Whoever this mystery bidder is, it certainly has given AT&T a headache by upping the ante by a cool $200 million. The new bid stands at $104.64 per share, or $1.8 billion in total.

AT&T needs to find the difference, and possibly exceed it, or face the risk of losing out. Straight Path laid out the situation in a highly accessible manner below:

“Straight Path is required, and intends to, negotiate in good faith with AT&T during the Negotiation Period. Straight Path is not permitted to enter into the Bidder’s merger agreement or to change its recommendation in favour of the AT&T transaction unless, at the end of the Negotiation Period, the Straight Path Board determines that the Bidder’s offer continues to constitute a ‘Superior Proposal’ and satisfies certain other requirements under the AT&T Merger Agreement. The Bidder has stated that its offer will remain outstanding until 11:59 p.m. New York City time on May 3, 2017.”

In other words, cough up or b*gger off.

The bid from AT&T was seemingly a way to prepare itself for the upcoming 5G arms race. AT&T has been trailing to the likes of Verizon and T-Mobile US, though the Straight Path acquisition, as well as the previous purchase of FiberTower in February, was supposed to offer a way into the high-frequency airwaves.

Straight Path’s portfolio of millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum, including 39 GHz and 28 GHz licenses, would be an attractive proposition for AT&T as the 28 gigahertz and 39 GHz mmWave spectrum has already been approved by the FCC as one of the frequencies to power 5G. The prospect of a bidding war against a mystery opponent is an unneeded distraction.

Some might assume Verizon is the mystery bidder, and of course is not moving off the fence whatsoever, but considering T-Mobile CEO John Legere has a slightly naughty and mischievous side to his personality, it might not come as a surprise if he had something to do with the spanner in the works.

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