Sprint Nextel buys Nextel Partners
Sprint Nextel this week agreed to pay $6.5 billion to buy out the rest of Nextel Partners, the most significant of all the affiliates impacted by the merger of Sprint and Nextel Communications earlier this year.
Several affiliates for Sprint and Nextel had threatened legal action after the announcement of the merger, which they claimed violated their exclusive rights. The most important of these affiliates was Nextel Partners, which not only owned network equipment but also considerable spectrum holdings, Precursor wireless analyst Rudy Baca said.
Sprint Nextel agreed to pay $28.50 per share for Nextel Partners, valuing the affiliate at more than $9 billion. Sprint Nextel already owned 31% of Nextel Partners, so it only had to purchase the other 69% of the company.
With the announcement, Sprint Nextel has committed more than $11 billion to buy out affiliates, but Baca said the additional debt burden has not alarmed the market.
“I think the market is going to say that they’re better off settling these things, particularly with Nextel Partners,” Baca said. “[Sprint Nextel] actually resolved [the Nextel Partners situation] more in their favor … than many people had expected. I think the market will be fairly forgiving about the amount of debt they’re taking on,
Sprint Nextel still has to cut deals with “a couple more” affiliates, but Baca said they lack the leverage to force the carrier to pay big money for them.
“They’re not very big, so they’ll fall right in line,” Baca said. “The problem with Sprint’s affiliates is they didn’t have any of the spectrum … They had all of the hardware but none of the spectrum. So, if Sprint decided to pull the spectrum, what were they left with? Just a bunch of towers they couldn’t use.”