AT&T Inc. announced on Monday that it would sell the majority of its ownership of the Yellow Pages business to the private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management for $950 million. The sale is indicative of AT&T getting rid of shrinking aspects of its business, to better focus on those that are growing, like wireless. Consumers have been using the web to search for phone numbers, and revenues for the Yellow Pages phone books fell 30% in the last 2 years.
Phone books were once a steady source of income, with businesses paying top dollar for ads, and were still making money for AT&T until recently. The company is following the path of Verizon, who jettisoned its directory business to its investors in 2006, which went bankrupt 3 years later.
Cerberus is paying AT&T $750 million in cash, a $200 million note, along with a 47 percent stake in YP Holdings LLC, which will oversee the business. Roughly 8,400 AT&T employees will be affected by the sale, which is assumed to close around mid-year. AT&T doesn't expect the sale to affect its earnings for this year, and its shares fell 15 cents to $30.79 this morning.
Included in the sale are the printed Yellow and White Pages, websites like Yellowpages.com and the mobile application. These services combined generated $3.3 billion last year, roughly 3% of AT&T’s overall revenue. AT&T AdWorks, which sells advertising offerings across online, mobile and TV, is not included in the sale.
In another wise decision as of late, AT&T has also said that it will begin unlocking contract-expired iPhones - it's about time.