AT&T Is Close to Sale of Major DirecTV Stake to TPG

AT&T Inc. is nearing a deal to sell a significant stake in DirecTV to private equity firm TPG, marking a long-sought exit from the struggles of managing a declining satellite TV business.

A deal would value DirecTV at about $15 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter. That’s a fraction of the $48.5 billion AT&T agreed to pay for the business in 2014.

If AT&T and TPG are able to reach a deal, an announcement could come as soon as this week or next, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

The talks could still fall apart and end without a deal, the people said.

Representatives for TPG and AT&T declined to comment. The news was reported earlier by CNBC.

AT&T Chief Executive Officer John Stankey has been trying to clean house at the company, selling underperforming assets and using the proceeds to pay down debt. If AT&T can unload a major stake in the satellite business, it could let the telecom giant remove DirecTV from its books while maintaining access to some of its cash flow. In 2019, activist investor Elliott Investment Management urged AT&T to explore a divestiture of DirecTV.

DirecTV had been open to a merger with rival Dish Network Corp., people familiar with the matter said in 2019. But such a deal would have raised antitrust questions. A proposed combination of the two satellite services was shot down by the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Justice Department in 2002.

A blank-check company backed by former Citigroup Inc. rainmaker Michael Klein previously expressed interest in a deal, Bloomberg reported last year, but those talks stalled. Apollo Global Management Inc. also has held discussions about a transaction.

Klein’s vehicle announced a deal this week with electric carmaker Lucid Motors Inc.

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