AT&T Looks to Cut Debt With Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands Sale


(Bloomberg) – AT & T Inc. has agreed to divest its operations in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to Liberty Latin America Ltd. $ 1.95 billion in cash, helping to reduce debt.

The Dallas-based telecoms and media giant is trying to strengthen its balance sheet since the takeover of Time Warner Inc. last year for $ 85 billion. AT & T was considering the possible sale of Puerto Rico's activities during the summer, although it expects to reap up to $ 3 billion from this sale, said at Bloomberg News a person familiar with the file.

"This transaction is the result of our ongoing strategic analysis of our balance sheet and assets to identify monetization opportunities," said John Stephens, AT & T's Chief Financial Officer, in a statement.

Elliott Management Corp., the shareholder shareholder, began to request the divestiture of certain assets and to change the management of AT & T. The company had already sold its stake in the Hulu streaming service and its offices in New York as part of the debt reduction effort.

In total, including Wednesday's deal, AT & T said it sold $ 11 billion worth of assets this year, exceeding its target of $ 6 billion to $ 8 billion.

For Liberty Latin America, part of the US cable pioneer John Malone's global empire, the agreement reinforces regional development ambitions. The Denver-based company is present in more than 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

AT & T announced plans to repurchase shares in the fourth quarter, as well as further debt relief.

The Wall Street Journal announced the upcoming sale earlier Wednesday.

–With the help of Scott Moritz.

To contact the reporter about this story: John J. Edwards III in Boston at jedwardsiii1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, John J. Edwards III, Cécile Daurat

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