AT&T may abandon its current plan to sell DIRECTV because the bids are too low, according to a New York Post report.
Several news reports, including ones from the Post and The Wall Street Journal, have said AT&T has held an auction for the beleaguered satellite TV service, and has received bids from at least two investment firms, Churchill Capital and Apollo Global Management.
But the Post article says AT&T considers the latest bids to be below DIRECTV’s market value.
“Earlier this month, AT&T pushed back a deadline for final bids for DIRECTV into January — and told prospective bidders it may cancel the auction altogether if it doesn’t get better offers, according to sources close to the situation,” the Post writes.
If the story is true, AT&T could be bluffing to entice the equity firms to increase their offers. The Post story says AT&T has invited a third firm, TPG Capital, to examine DIRECTV’s books in the hope that it will also make an offer.
It is unclear what the equity firms are offering, but The Wall Street Journal and CNBC have said it’s around $15 billion. What’s unclear is if that is for a minority or majority stake. AT&T paid $49 billion to purchase DIRECTV in 2015.
AT&T has contemplated selling a minority or majority stake in the nation’s largest satellite TV service which has lost roughly six million subscribers since the telco purchased it in 2015. The company has not commented on the sale reports, but it has said it wants to shed debt and focus the company’s efforts on streaming rather than traditional TV services such as DIRECTV and U-verse.
The Post report says Churchill, which is headed by former Citigroup executive Michael Klein, was surprised by AT&T’s threat to halt the auction.
“Indeed, AT&T’s threat to cancel the auction appears to have surprised bidders, including Klein,” the story says. “Last week, Klein priced a second blank-check company, Churchill Capital Corp. V, at $450 million, leading some to speculate he had been confident of closing the DIRECTV deal this month.”
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— Phillip Swann