ATLANTA (AP)—BellSouth Corp. said Thursday it has completed the sale of some if its Latin American assets and will use the proceeds to help pay for Cingular Wireless LLCs $41 billion purchase of AT&T Wireless Services Inc.
The Atlanta-based company said it has closed on the transfer to Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica SA of its assets in three of 10 Latin American counties where it has operations. The transfer of its assets in the remaining seven countries is expected by year end.
BellSouth announced in March that it would sell its Latin American assets to Telefonica for $5.85 billion. It says it will receive $1.2 billion for the assets in the three countries that it transferred Thursday.
Spokesman Jeff Battcher said the proceeds will be used to help pay for the Cingular-AT&T Wireless deal.
In February, Atlanta-based Cingular, a joint venture of BellSouth and San Antonio-based SBC Communications Inc., agreed to pay nearly $41 billion in cash to buy Redmond, Wash.-based AT&T Wireless to create the nations largest mobile phone company.
The deal between the second and third largest U.S. wireless companies would create a cellular giant with 46 million subscribers and 70,000 employees. Current market leader Verizon Wireless has 37.5 million customers.
Justice Department approval of the Cingular-AT&T Wireless deal could come as early as later Thursday. That would leave only Federal Communications Commission approval left to close the deal.
The deal would be a boon for Cingulars efforts to cut costs, fill service gaps and expand its spectrum, or radio frequency, in several key U.S markets, thus enabling it to offer wireless Internet access at broadband speed.
Some fear the merger could reduce the fierce competition that has driven down prices in the U.S. cellular market, trimming the number of national players from six to five. The deal also is expected to result in significant job cuts.
BellSouth shares were down 19 cents at $27.84 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.