WASHINGTON — AT&T announced Sunday that it was acquiring DirecTV in a deal worth about $49 billion that would create a new telecom and television behemoth to rival cable companies, while raising fresh concerns over competition and options for consumers.
AT&T would gain DirecTV’s 20 million US subscribers, a company with strong cash flows, and an ability to fatten its bundle of offerings. The combined company would be able to offer phone, high-speed Internet, and paid television subscriptions to more customers, packages cable companies such as Comcast have sold most successfully.
AT&T has agreed to acquire DirecTV for $95 a share, made up of $28.50 a share in cash and $66.50 a share in AT&T stock. AT&T says it expects to close the acquisition within 12 months.
The deal is the latest megamerger to be announced this year in a dramatically shifting telecommunications industry. The titans of the industry have recently rushed to bulk up — in overall size and in diversity of service offerings — as their legacy phone and television businesses have frayed and consumers have turned to the Internet for communication and entertainment.
The deals, which need approval from federal regulators, have prompted new concern that consumers could be left with fewer options and even higher prices after years of creeping increases in monthly bills. In 2012, US cable television prices increased 5.1 percent, to an average of $64, triple the rate of inflation, according to a government report.
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