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Friday, July 12, 2013, 02:19 pm PT (05:19 pm ET)

AT&T to acquire prepaid carrier Leap Wireless for $15 per share

Leap wireless on Friday announced that it has entered into an agreement to have AT&T purchase all of the telecom's stock and wireless properties for $15 per share in cash, a move that will net America's second-largest carrier more spectrum, subscribers and retail outlets.

Cricket


While AT&T has yet to comment on the matter, Leap issued a statement on its website stating the terms of the deal worth $1.19 billion, which is scheduled to close within six to nine months pending on regulatory approval.

As part of the agreement, AT&T will take over all of Leap's stock and wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores and about 5 million subscribers. Leap, which operates under the Cricket Wireless brand, has a 3G CDMA network covering approximately 96 million people across 35 states, as well as a 4G LTE network in the same areas serving 21 million people.

AT&T will reportedly retain the Cricket name, and will move customers over to its 4G LTE network, while leveraging the company's distribution network to expand its reach to more cities.

Importantly, the acquisition grants AT&T spectrum in the PCS and AWS bands, which are "largely complementary" to AT&T's existing licenses. The telecom plans to use the extra spectrum to extend its 4G LTE service as soon as the deal goes through.

Leap's Cricket was the first prepaid carrier to offer Apple's iPhone in June 2012, selling the 16GB iPhone 4S contract-free for $500 alongside an unlimited plan priced at $55. At the time, the company was seen as paying a $150 subsidy to Apple.