WSJ: AT&T considering a merger in Europe

AT&T Chicago store (interior 001)

Faced with constraints on growth at home, U.S. carrier AT&T is reportedly considering entering new markets in Europe via a merger with one of the key players in a major European market such as the United Kingdom, Germany or the Netherlands, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The carrier is allegedly hoping to bring its technological expertise in building 4G networks to the table.

European telcos have been slow to roll out fourth-generation networks so AT&T through its European partner could help roll out the latest in 4G technology in order to then introduce “more lucrative pricing strategies”. European carriers get most of their revenue from voice plans and text messaging, unlike in the United States where telcos have shifted to new plans that charge subscribers based on their data use… 

AT&T is said to be in the process of evaluating potential partners, but don’t expect any such deal to come through before the end of the year.

According to the Journal:

It couldn’t be learned whether AT&T is engaged in negotiations with European carriers or which companies it might be circling. European carriers including Royal KPN NV, KPN.AE +3.62% the biggest telecom company in the Netherlands and Everything Everywhere, one of the biggest wireless carriers in the U.K., are on AT&T’s radar, the people said.

Latin American telecom giant América Móvil has a 28 percent stake in KPN. América Móvil’s owner, the controversial tycoon Carlos Slim, is a close friend of AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.

As for Everything Everywhere (EE), UK’s first 4G operator co-owned by Deutsche Telekom AG and France Télécom SA, Mobile News reported today that EE is reshuffling its retail strategy by closing 78 of its 700 retail stores by the end of April. Additionally, all T-Mobile, Orange and Everything Everywhere stores will get converted to new EE outlets from October 2012 onwards.

US regulators said ‘no’ to AT&T’s high-profile merger with T-Mobile USA and with Softbank’s acquisition of Sprint and Sprint’s Clearwire deal, AT&T is facing more competitive pressure on its home turf.

AT&T yesterday announced it will open up Apple’s FaceTime to cellular for all tiered data plans, not just people who signed up for AT&T’s shared family plans. The carrier also said it saw ‘best-ever’ smartphone sales in the holiday quarter thanks to Apple and Android devices.

AT&T in the U.S. was Apple’s exclusive network partner when the company launched the iPhone on June 2007. The Dallas, Texas company has more than a hundred million subscribers in the US, making it the third largest company in Texas and seventh largest company in the United States by total revenue.