AT&T is close to selling a large minority stake in DIRECTV, U-verse and AT&T TV Now to equity firm TPG, according to a report by CNBC which cites “people close to the matter.”
The financial channel says a deal could be announced as early as this week, and it will value the AT&T businesses for approximately $15 billion. AT&T purchased DIRECTV for $49 billion in 2015 which would suggest the telco is prepared to take a large loss on the satellite TV service. But the size of TPG’s ownership stake is unclear at this point.
For AT&T, the sale would help the company eliminate debt and possibly allow another entity to run the TV businesses. AT&T executives have repeatedly said they believe the traditional TV industry is in decline.
While the CNBC report says AT&T TV Now would be part of the deal, the streaming service actually merged with AT&T TV last month. The news outfit may be confusing the two.
CNBC said AT&T could not be reached for comment and TPG refused to comment.
Who Is TPG?
TPG, which is headquartered in San Francisco and Fort Worth, Texas, was founded in 1992 by three businessmen, William Price III, James Coulter and David Bonderman (now a part owner of the Boston Celtics and the Seattle Kraken, the new NHL expansion team). The company’s mission is to invest in struggling (but potentially viable) companies that lack the capital and/or resources to execute their visions. TPG recoups its investment when the company turns things around and, in some cases, is sold to another company. (Think Dish.)
Over the years, the firm has invested in scores of companies in every conceivable category, including film (MGM Studios), TV (Univision), Internet and digital media (Spotify, Vice, Survey Monkey) and technology (Hotwire, McAfee, Seagate). There’s no doubt that TPG’s management team has an understanding of how entertainment and technology intersect in today’s world.
To learn more about TPG, click here.
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— Phillip Swann