AT&T Inc Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said on Tuesday his company would buy wireless assets in Europe if there were available at the right price.
Stephenson declined to comment on potential deals during an appearance at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference. The executive said European operators were far behind the United states in investments in wireless broadband, mainly because regulatory policies regarding spectrum licenses discouraged investments in the region.
But he said when the policies change, broadband investments should take off.
"Those things I believe happen over time," he said, adding that any move by AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA) to enter Europe would depend on the valuation of any assets available.
As growth slows in the U.S. wireless market, analysts have speculated that AT&T could buy overseas assets from Vodafone Group Plc (Newbury, UK), which agreed to sell its stake in U.S. wireless operator Verizon Wireless to joint venture partner Verizon Communications Inc (New York City, NY, USA).
Meanwhile, in the United States Stephenson said he believes "large scale" mergers and acquisitions were not likely in the next three years.
He cited the U.S. Justice Department's blocking AT&T's 2011 plan to buy T-Mobile US Inc (Bellevue, WA, USA) for $39 billion and the recent decision by the agency's antitrust arm to stop two major U.S. airlines from merging.
"It will remove all questions in your mind about how the DoJ thinks about going from four national players to three," Stephenson said.
In what would be a much smaller deal, Stephenson said AT&T was close to selling its wireless broadcast towers but did not give details.
He said AT&T was not seeing an impact from increased competition in the U.S. market from rivals such as T-Mobile, except among price-sensitive customers.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Jeffrey Benkoe)