Spain’s biggest telecommunications company Telefonica SA is looking to buy AT&T Inc.’s television assets in Latin America, according to a Reuters report Friday. The unit — with operations in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and several other countries — could be valued at around $10 billion, people familiar with the matter reportedly said.
Telefonica’s stock fell 2.36 percent in Madrid on Friday, while AT&T’s stock moved marginally higher on the New York Stock Exchange.
AT&T has yet to decide if it will explore a deal with Telefonica or another company, the source told Reuters, adding that another potential buyer could be Liberty Global Plc., an American, British-based telecommunications and television company. With other parties interested in AT&T’s assets in specific countries, the company may reportedly choose to sell its units in parts.
AT&T bought the Latin American assets as part of its acquisition of DirecTV last year. The business, which included satellite and cable television services, elevated the U.S. telecom company to the largest provider of pay TV services in the U.S. and the world. But profits have been pressured by depreciating currencies in Brazil and other Latin American countries.
Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said at an industry conference in December that AT&T would consider selling the Latin American business, but that the company was patient.
"If somebody were interested in talking about a strategic combination of those assets [Latin American assets] with a different product, we would have to look at it. Would we consider selling them? Yes, but we are in no rush," Stephenson had said.
Telefonica runs a popular Latin American wireless service called Movistar in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico and owns Vivo — the largest telecommunications company in Brazil. The company undertook a major restructuring last year, selling its O2 U.K. business to CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. for 10.3 billion pounds ($15 billion). It is also mulling the sale of its Spanish infrastructure unit, including wireless towers, later this year, according to Reuters.