AT&T reassures investors after big C-Band bid - Mobile World Live

AT&T reassures investors after big C-Band bid

09 MAR 2021

AT&T CFO John Stephens (pictured) used an investor event to dismiss recent concerns from analysts about the impact of a US C-Band spectrum (3.7GHz to 4.2GHz) sale on its balance sheet, stating it could easily handle a commitment to pay more than $23 billion for licences.

Stephens explained the operator had more than “$30 billion of ability to handle any down payments pretty easily” from its cash reserves and a $14.7 billion loan secured last month.

He added approximately half of the C-Band spectrum it bid for is due to become available by end-2021, allowing it to “stay extremely competitive, if not lead, going forward”.

Looking ahead, he said AT&T remained committed to providing a dividend to shareholders and planned capex of $21 billion this year, compared with $19.7 billion in 2020.

He added that even after making these investments the operator expected to generate $26 billion in free cash flow, leaving “plenty of money to pay out the dividend and a very reasonable” ratio.

AT&T bid $23.4 billion to acquire 1,621 C-band licences with the sum due by 24 March.

The auction garnered bids totalling $81.2 billion, prompting concern from analysts over the burden on operators.

Last month, MoffetNathanson warned in a research note “AT&T, in particular, will face unwelcome choices about promotions and service pricing and, eventually, about dividends and diversification”.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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