AT&T Wireless shareholders OK $41 billion sale to Cingular

Resultant firm would have 46 million customers

May 20, 2004|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

REDMOND, Wash. - Shareholders of AT&T Wireless Services Inc., the No. 3 U.S. mobile-phone provider, approved yesterday the company's $41 billion sale to Cingular Wireless LLC, which may create the nation's biggest mobile-phone provider.

Of the shares voted, 98 percent favored the merger, AT&T Wireless said, adding that shareholders rejected three proposals, including two on executive compensation.

Cingular's agreement in February to buy AT&T Wireless at $15 a share, which the companies expect to close by year's end, would create a carrier with 46 million customers. The transaction still needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department, which must determine that it complies with antitrust law and doesn't harm competition.

AT&T Wireless shares rose 2 cents yesterday to close at $13.97 on the New York Stock Exchange. They've more than doubled in the past year.

Cingular, which is jointly owned by SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp., doesn't have publicly traded shares. It is the nation's second-largest wireless carrier.

AT&T Wireless put itself up for sale in January as sales growth slowed. The company lost 367,000 customers last quarter in part because a software flaw kept it from activating some subscribers. AT&T Wireless and Cingular have said they may have to sell some overlapping operations to win federal approval for the deal.

Verizon Wireless is the nation's biggest mobile-phone operator, with 38.9 million customers at the end of March.

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