January 02, 2001, 2:33 PM — Seeking to expand its presence in the wireless markets, the nation's largest mobile phone company has expanded overseas yet again. Following on minority investments in Europe and Asia, it's now acquiring 16% of its target company for just under $10 billion.
In exchange for this lofty sum, they now have a stake in an overseas wireless provider that is its country's third largest provider -- although the target brings far fewer than one million new mobile Internet subscribers to the investor's already rapidly expanding base of over 15 million wireless Internet subscribers.
More important, the investment could help the company push its GSM phone technology deeper into the U.S. market.
That's right, the U.S. market.
As you may have read last week, NTT DoCoMo of Japan is buying a chunk of AT&T Wireless. For a change, the U.S. is viewed as the market for expansion (haven't seen anything like this since all those European telecom vendors started buying U.S. switch companies a couple years back). Nice twist, isn't it.
AT&T finally starts to get some cash to buy down its oppressive $62 billion debt while gaining access to technology (GSM) needed for keeping its cellular services competitive and expertise in building wireless Internet services.
Perhaps most interesting, however, is that AT&T Wireless was DoCoMo's second choice. The Japanese really wanted to buy VoiceStream Wireless, but lost out to Germany's Deutsche Telekom earlier this year. My, my how things have changed for Ma Bell these days.