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Atlantic Tele-Network to sell retail wireless business to AT&T for $780m

Atlantic Tele-Network Inc., a Beverly company that provides telecommunications services to various rural and under-served markets, said Tuesday that it has agreed to sell a domestic retail wireless businesses in its portfolio to AT&T for about $780 million.

That retail business operates under the name of Alltel and serves customers in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, and Idaho. AT&T will purchase Alltel’s operations in an all-cash transaction, Atlantic Tele-Network said in a press release.

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The transaction is expected to close in the second half of the year. The transaction is subject to customary closing terms and conditions and regulatory approval from the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission.

Atlantic Tele-Network’s chief executive Michael T. Prior said that once the transaction is completed, the company will consider several options in deciding how to use the after-tax proceeds.

Among those options are exploring acquistions, reducing debt, investing in existing businesses, and returning money to shareholders through dividends, Prior said.

Atlantic Tele-Network operates advanced wireless, wireline, and both terrestrial and submarine fiber optic networks in various parts of North America and the Caribbean.

When the sale is completed, Atlantic Tele-Network’s businesses will include Commnet, which serves rural communities mostly in the Southwestern United States; Sovernet, which serves residential and business customers in New England; and ION, which serves rural communities in New York State.

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