In a slightly shocking move, AT&T announced it has agreed to acquire Leap Wireless for $1.19 billion in cash. The deal, which works out to $15 per share for Leap shareholders is a 88% premium on the Leap closing price this afternoon. AT&T announced the deal includes Leap’s licenses, network assets, retail stores and around five million subscribers.
Leap has long been tossed around as a possible acquisition target for T-Mobile as part of the way for the Magenta carrier to boost its subscriber base. In a post- MetroPCS world, the number of carriers the size of Leap or larger are limited leaving slim pickings for possible acquisition targets. Leap’s total network covers around 96 million people in the US and with sizable AWS spectrum holdings, reports continued to place T-Mobile as a frontrunner for possible takeover.
The deal leaves the four national carriers and US Cellular as the largest wireless networks in the US.