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AT&T has announced that it has come to agreement to acquire U.S. carrier Leap Wireless (which operates the Cricket brand) for $15 per share. The acquisition will cover all of Leap Wireless’s assets, expanding AT&T’s coverage to Leap’s 5 million subscribers.

Leap, notably, runs a pre-paid deal for iPhones in the U.S.

This move enhances AT&T’s spectrum, retail store count, employee number, and more, so it is likely a positive move for its wireless customers. It’s possible that this announcement is related to the upcoming press event AT&T has scheduled for July 16th.

Press release below:

DALLAS & SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and prepaid wireless provider Leap Wireless International Inc. (NASDAQ:LEAP) have entered into an agreement for AT&T to acquire Leap for $15 per share in cash. Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T will acquire all of Leap’s stock and wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores and approximately 5 million subscribers. As of April 15, 2013, Leap had $2.8 billion of net debt. Leap shareholders will also receive a contingent right entitling them to the net proceeds received on the sale of Leap’s 700 Mhz “A Block” spectrum in Chicago, which Leap purchased for $204 million in August 2012.

Leap’s network covers approximately 96 million people in 35 U.S. states. Leap currently operates — under the Cricket brand — a 3G CDMA network, as well as a 4G LTE network covering 21 million people in these areas, and has 3,400 employees.

AT&T will retain the Cricket brand name, provide Cricket customers with access to AT&T’s award-winning 4G LTE mobile network, utilize Cricket’s distribution channels, and expand Cricket’s presence to additional U.S. cities. The result will be increased competition, better device choices, improved customer care and a significantly enhanced mobile Internet experience for consumers seeking low-cost prepaid wireless plans.

The combined company will have the financial resources, scale and spectrum to better compete with other major national providers for customers interested in low-cost prepaid service. Cricket’s employees, operations and distribution will jump start AT&T’s expansion into the highly competitive prepaid segment.

The acquisition includes spectrum in the PCS and AWS bands covering 137 million people and is largely complementary to AT&T’s existing spectrum licenses. Immediately after approval of the transaction, AT&T plans to put Leap’s unutilized spectrum – which covers 41 million people – to use in furthering its 4G LTE deployment and providing additional capacity and enhanced network performance for customers’ growing mobile Internet usage.

Owners of approximately 29.8% of Leap’s outstanding shares have entered into an agreement to vote in favor of the transaction.

The transaction is subject to review by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice and to other customary closing conditions. AT&T expects the transaction to close in six to nine months.