AT&T To Spin Off DirecTV In $16.3B Venture With TPG

AT&T has agreed to spin off its video business unit, DirecTV, in a $16.25 billion transaction with private equity firm TPG Capital.

According to the agreement, AT&T (T) and TPG will form a new company New DirecTV with an enterprise value of $16.25 billion, which will include DirecTV, AT&T TV and U-verse video services. The telecom giant believes that the spin-off will result in more focus, flexibility and provide more resources to enable the video business to succeed over the long-term.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of this year and will result in AT&T receiving $7.6 billion in cash from the spin-off and assuming $200 million of DirecTV’s existing debt. AT&T expects to use the proceeds from the spin-off to reduce the company’s debt.

TPG will contribute $1.8 billion in cash to the new company in exchange for preferred units and a 30% stake in the common shares of New DirecTV. AT&T will own the remaining 70% of New DirecTV.

AT&T’s CEO, John Stankey said, “This agreement aligns with our investment and operational focus on connectivity and content, and the strategic businesses that are key to growing our customer relationships across 5G wireless, fiber and HBO Max. And it supports our deliberate capital allocation commitment to invest in growth areas, sustain the dividend at current levels, focus on debt reduction and restructure or monetize non-core assets.”

Furthermore, Stankey added, “As the pay-TV industry continues to evolve, forming a new entity with TPG to operate the U.S. video business separately provides the flexibility and dedicated management focus needed to continue meeting the needs of a high-quality customer base and managing the business for profitability. TPG is the right partner for this transaction and creating a new entity is the right way to structure and manage the video business for optimum value creation.”

AT&T’s DirecTV business has been losing subscribers since its acquisition in 2014. However, at the end of 4Q20, DirecTV’s subscriber losses improved to 617,000 from 946,000 in the same period a year earlier. The company said that the reason for the decline in the rate of subscriber losses was its concentration on high-value subscribers. (See AT&T stock analysis on TipRanks)

Shares of AT&T were down by 2.6% on Feb. 26 and rose 0.5% in extended hours trading.

Following the spin-off announcement, Oppenheimer analyst Timothy Horan reiterated a Buy rating on the stock. Horan commented, “T will receive $8.4B in cash and a 70% equity stake, but leverage will be above 3x because of the $27B spent on C-Band. TPG is contributing $1.8B in cash to New DTV for senior equity, a 30% stake at a 60% FCF yield on $4B in FCF, which is stable. This lowers T’s FCF generation to $22B pro forma from $26B on a $15B dividend. T is unlikely to raise the dividend again.”

The rest of the Street is cautiously optimistic about the stock with a Moderate Buy consensus rating based on 5 Buys, 7 Holds, and 1 Sell. The average analyst price target of $32.11 implies 15% upside potential to current levels.

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