Verizon has snatched spectrum-rich Straight Path Communications away from AT&T. The No. 1 wireless provider says this morning that it has an agreement to buy Straight Path in an all stock deal that values it at $3.1 billion — handily beating the agreement it struck last month to accept $1.25 billion in stock from AT&T.
Verizon will pay AT&T a $38 million break-up fee that Straight Path was obligated to assume if it backed out of their deal.
Straight Path is rich in the kinds of airwave spectrum rights needed to help offer speedy 5G wireless broadband communications.
The media world is watching telco efforts to roll out 5G since it could make providers more competitive with cable in offering video streaming.
Straight Path has a nationwide portfolio of what’s known as millimeter wave spectrum, including 39 GHz and 28 GHz licenses. Its licenses cover the entire United States, including all of the top 40 markets.
Verizon’s Network Infrastructure Planning SVP Ed Chan told investors this week that “millimeter wave is becoming even more important as we go into 5G” which he says will “change the future of the digital landscape.”
The fight over Straight Path will provide a windfall for its shareholders. The company’s stock has appreciated more than 524% since the beginning of April.
Many expected that the sale price would exceed the $184 a share in the agreement with Verizon. Straight Path shares closed yesterday at $223.79, and are down more than 20% in pre-market trading.
The companies expect their deal to close within nine months, after the FCC reviews it to be sure the license transfer would serve the public interest.
Howard Jonas, who owns most of Straight Path’s shares, has agreed to support the transaction.