Sprint announced Monday that it plans to acquire its mobile phone affiliate, US Unwired, for $1.3 billion.
In addition to expanding Sprint's direct mobile service by some 500,000 subscribers, the acquisition will halt US Unwired's attempt to block Sprint's merger with Nextel Communications.
The deal covers a sweeping subscriber area covering nine states and some 8 million people. The US Unwired units involved in the acquisition are Gulf Coast Wireless, Georgia PCS, and Louisiana and Texas Unwired. US Unwired's coverage includes portions of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.
"We began our Sprint relationship with a handful of customers and a service territory of 1.8 million residents," said US Unwired president and CEO Robert Piper in a statement. "Our market now covers 8.1 million people and serves more than a half-million subscribers." US Unwired employs some 600 persons and had $408 million in revenues in 2004.
In announcing the acquisition Monday, the firms noted that they will immediately seek to stay litigation filed in U.S. District Court in Louisiana by US Unwired that sought to block the Sprint-Nextel merger.