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AT&T Cancels IPO for DirecTV Latin America Unit

AT&T for now is no longer moving forward with a planned IPO for Vrio, the holding company that comprises its DirecTV satellite TV businesses that operate in South America and the Caribbean.

The company’s announcement Wednesday that it was suspending the IPO came a day before the new stock was scheduled to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “VRIO.” Last week AT&T said in a filing that it expected the Vrio IPO to raise up to around $650 million.

“AT&T Inc. has decided to withdraw its planned initial public offering of shares of Vrio Corp.,” the telco said in a brief statement Wednesday. “The company made this decision based on current market conditions.”

Separately, AT&T and Time Warner are battling the Department of Justice’s antitrust lawsuit that seeks to block the takeover of Time Warner, in a trial that began March 19. On Wednesday, Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes testified, calling the government’s objections to the deal “ridiculous.”

Last month AT&T filed a registration statement for the potential U.S. initial public offering of Vrio shares, potentially setting up the unit for a spinoff or sale. That would help AT&T pay down debt it would amass to close the $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which analysts say will push the telco’s debt load to more than $180 billion. Under the planned IPO, AT&T would have retained 98% voting control of Vrio and 83%-85% of the economic interest in the unit.

As of the end of 2017, DirecTV Latin America had about 13.6 million subscribers in South America and the Caribbean — up 9.3% year-over-year. For full-year 2017, DirecTV Latin America had revenue of $5.57 billion, up 10.9% from the year prior, and net income of $222 million (versus a net loss of $356 million for the 2016).

Vrio’s businesses operate in eight South American countries and three Caribbean countries: Brazil, under the Sky brand; and, under the DirecTV brand, in Barbados, Colombia, Curaçao, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay.

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