AT&T rating cut by Moody's on concern about debt-financed buyback

Ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded AT&T on concern about debts the operator has incurred to finance its share repurchase program.

Lowering the credit rating from A3 to A2, Moody’s says it believes the debt- financed program will result in “materially higher leverage for several years before it can be offset by organic growth”.

AT&T subscriber growth beats but profit margins misses

Reuters

AT&T Inc's fourth-quarter profit was lower than expected but the telephone company promised earnings and revenue growth this year even if the economy does not improve.

Along with growth from its existing business, Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said on Thursday that AT&T (Dallas, USA) is also eyeing overseas opportunities. He said the idea would be to profit from wireless expansion in countries where services are not yet as advanced as in the United States.

Verizon posts weak fourth-quarter, promises a better 2013

Reuters

Verizon Communications Inc posted a weaker-than-expected wireless operating profit margin due to hefty costs from smartphones like Apple's iPhone, but the U.S. telephone company promised a big improvement this year as it cuts costs.

While Verizon's fourth-quarter bottom line was weaker than anticipated, investors were encouraged when Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said on Tuesday that the company could be in a position to buy back shares sooner than expected and that wireless margins could rise this year to as high as 50 percent.

Merger of Portugal's Optimus and Zon wins board approval

Portuguese operators Optimus and Zon Multimedia look set to merge to form the country’s second-biggest player, behind Portugal Telecom, after directors from both companies gave their blessing to the tie-up.

Under the terms of the deal, Optimus (Porto, Portugal) will be incorporated into Zon (Lisbon, Portugal) and its shareholders will hold a 40% stake in the combined entity, which will operate under the name of Zon Optimus.

Besides controlling 26% of the market, the new company will have revenues of €1.6 billion and an operating profit of about €540 million.

Oi rushes out financial results following CEO departure

Brazilian operator Oi has swiftly published preliminary details of its 2012 earnings after announcing an unexpected change in leadership.

The company surprised observers earlier this week by revealing that Francisco Valim, the chief executive since September 2011, has been replaced by chairman Jose Carneiro da Cunha.

According to Dow Jones Newswires, citing a person familiar with the matter, da Cunha’s appointment is only temporary while the company finds a permanent replacement.

Chorus of Clearwire investors against Sprint bid growing louder

Reuters

Investors holding 29 percent of the outstanding minority shares of Clearwire Corp are unhappy with Sprint's $2.2 billion bid for the wireless service provider and are pushing for a higher offer.

Sprint (Overland Park, USA), the No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider, announced on December 17 an agreement to acquire the outstanding shares of Clearwire (Bellevue, USA) it doesn't already own for $2.97 per share. While Sprint holds a more than 50 percent stake in Clearwire, the deal requires approval from holders of just over 50 percent of Clearwire's minority shares.

AT&T mulls takeover in Europe: report

Reuters

U.S. telecoms group AT&T is looking at an acquisition in Europe, possibly of Dutch peer KPN or the UK's Everything Everywhere, to offset weak growth at home, the Wall Street Journal reported.

AT&T (Dallas, USA) executives were considering a takeover in Europe, and some believed an opening existed now to buy a carrier in a major European market such as Britain, Germany or the Netherlands, the paper added.

AT&T faces $10 billion pension charge, other costs

Reuters

AT&T Inc warned on Thursday that it will take a fourth quarter charge of about $10 billion due to bigger than expected pension obligations, sending its shares down 1.3 percent.

The telephone company also said that results would be hurt by higher than expected smartphone costs and damage due to Superstorm Sandy.

Telecom Italia overhauls pricing, updates on NGA progress

Telecom Italia has unveiled new pricing plans, including a single rate for landline calls to fixed and mobile numbers, and provided an update on its LTE and fiber deployments during a meeting with Italian consumer associations.

Marco Patuano, the company’s chief operating officer, said a new single rate of €0.05 per minute will come into effect from April 1.

CITIC pays $1.16 billion to C&W and Portugal Telecom for Macau stakes

China’s CITIC Telecom has paid $1.16 billion to acquire a 79% stake in Macau’s largest telecoms operator from Cable & Wireless Communications (C&W) and Portugal Telecom.

State-backed CITIC (Hong Kong) already held a 20% stake in Companhia de Telecomunicacoes de Macau (CTM) but was eager to gain control of the growing business.

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