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Sprint Nextel to buy UbiquiTel for $1 billion

Sprint Nextel Corp. says it will acquire regional affiliate UbiquiTel Inc. for $1 billion.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Sprint Nextel Corp. has agreed to acquire UbiquiTel Inc. for $1 billion, continuing a campaign of buying up regional affiliates that have sued over last year's merger between Sprint and Nextel.

Conshohocken-based UbiquiTel provides wireless service under the Sprint brand name to 452,000 subscribers in medium-sized cities in California, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

UbiquiTel, which employs about 425 people, had revenues of $423 million for the year ending Dec. 31. It wasn't immediately clear if there would be any job losses.

Apart from its direct subscribers, UbiquiTel provides service to 151,000 wholesale subscribers under other brand names, like Qwest and Virgin Mobile.

Sprint Nextel, based in Reston, Va., will acquire UbiquiTel's shares for $10.35 each in cash in the deal, which is expected to close by June. The shares rose 10 cents to $10.29 in midday trading Thursday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Under the agreement, Sprint Nextel would also assume $300 million in debt.

The deal is subject to the approval of regulators and UbiquiTel shareholders.

Like most of the former Sprint affiliates, UbiquiTel filed suit against the company after it acquired Nextel Communications Inc. last summer for $35 billion, claiming the deal violated Sprint's promise not to compete with its affiliates in their markets.

As part of the agreement, both companies will seek an immediate stay of UbiquiTel's pending suit in Delaware. The case was awaiting a judge's verdict when the UbiquiTel deal was announced Thursday morning.

Because of the lawsuits, Sprint Nextel, which is based in Reston but has operational headquarters in Overland Park, Kan., has bought all but four of its affiliates. The remaining affiliates are iPCS Inc., Northern PCS, Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. and Swiftel Communications.