AT&T has entered into exclusive negotiations to sell a minority stake in DirecTV to private equity company TPG, Reuters reported.
The deal “could” value DirecTV at more than $15 billion, the report said. An agreement could be announced in the “coming weeks,” added Reuters, noting that AT&T is anxious to find ways of paying down nearly $150 billion in debut.
Reuters cited “people familiar with the matter.”
Both AT&T and TPG have declined comment.
The New York Post reported in early December that AT&T was disappointed in a number of private equity bids for its satellite TV company, some slightly above $15 billion, some below that figure.
There has been speculation that AT&T would enter into an agreement with financier Michael Klein’s Churchill Capital to spin DirecTV off through a special purpose acquisition company.
The Post reported that AT&T had also asked TPG to "look at the books" in hopes of driving up DirecTV's selling price.
AT&T paid $49 billion for DirecTV in 2015, a figure that swelled to $66 billion once acquired debt was factored in. Since then, DirecTV has lost more than 40% of its customers, finishing the third quarter with just 13.6 million subscribers.
And AT&T has taken on a lot more debt, subsequently paying another $85 billion to buy Time Warner Inc. in 2018.
It’s unclear as to how much debt relief a TPG deal valuing DirecTV at around $15 billion would provide. It’s also unclear as to whether TPG would gain stakes in other AT&T pay TV assets, notably the declining U-verse platform. There had been speculation that AT&T might include that asset in a private equity arrangement for DirecTV.
AT&T sold its Crunchyroll streaming service to Sony in December for $1.175 billion.
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