After months of exploring a potential sale of DirecTV, AT&T has decided to spin off the satellite TV service.
AT&T bought DirecTV for $48.5 billion ($67.1 billion including debt), in 2015, but the service has since lost millions of customers. The satellite industry has experienced difficulties as a whole, threatened by the widespread adoption of streaming TV services. Even so, DirecTV’s losses have far outpaced its rival, Dish Network. As a result, AT&T has been looking to get rid of DirecTV for some time, exploring various options, including an outright sale.
It appears the company has, instead, opted to spin off its satellite service with the help of TPG Capital. The deal is worth a mere $16.25 billion, including debt. AT&T will receive $7.8 billion in cash, including $5.8 billion from the new DirecTV and $1.8 billion from TPG. AT&T will use the cash to help pay down its debt.
“This agreement aligns with our investment and operational focus on connectivity and content, and the strategic businesses that are key to growing our customer relationships across 5G wireless, fiber and HBO Max. And it supports our deliberate capital allocation commitment to invest in growth areas, sustain the dividend at current levels, focus on debt reduction and restructure or monetize non-core assets,” said AT&T CEO John Stankey. “As the pay-TV industry continues to evolve, forming a new entity with TPG to operate the U.S. video business separately provides the flexibility and dedicated management focus needed to continue meeting the needs of a high-quality customer base and managing the business for profitability. TPG is the right partner for this transaction and creating a new entity is the right way to structure and manage the video business for optimum value creation.”
AT&T will own 70% of the common equity of the new company, with TPG owning the remaining 30%.
“We certainly didn’t expect this outcome when we closed the DirecTV acquisition in 2015,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said on a conference call, according to CNBC, although he expressed his belief the deal represents the best option for AT&T shareholders.