AirTouch to become second largest wireless service provider in U.S.

April 19, 1997|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

SAN FRANCISCO -- AirTouch Communications Inc. said yesterday that it will buy US West Media Group Inc.'s U.S. wireless business for $5 billion in stock and assumed debt to become the nation's second largest provider of wireless services after AT&T.

The purchase accelerates a 1994 plan to combine the wireless operations of the two companies in three steps over several years. The earlier plan hurt AirTouch's stock amid concern it was time-consuming and expensive, analysts said. AirTouch provides Cellular One and MobiLink wireless services.

Still, AirTouch's plan to complete the purchase to take advantage of soaring demand for beepers and cellular telephones faces a big hurdle. AirTouch may be forced to return to the original agreement if Congress passes a law proposed yesterday that bans the type of tax-free transaction the companies plan.

"This accomplishes our goal of owning the US West properties quicker with less equity and more efficiently," said AirTouch President Arun Sarin. "We remain hopeful that Congress will modify the proposed legislation to permit transactions such as ours."

Pub Date: 4/19/97

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