Liberty Latin America has confirmed that the company has entered into a consent judgment with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the previously announced acquisition of AT&T’s wireless and wireline operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The DoJ required Liberty Latin America Ltd. (Liberty), its subsidiary, Liberty Communications of Puerto Rico LLC (LCPR), and AT&T Inc. (AT&T) to divest certain fiber-based telecommunications assets and customer accounts in Puerto Rico. The DoJ also approved WorldNet Telecommunications, Inc. (WorldNet) as the acquirer.
Liberty, a Bermuda corporation with its headquarters in Hamilton, Bermuda, and executive offices in Denver, Colorado, is a leading telecommunications operator in Latin America and the Caribbean. Liberty provides video services, internet access, and home telephony services to more than 6 million subscribers and mobile wireless services to approximately 3.6 million subscribers across this region. Liberty generated approximately $3.9 billion in revenues in 2019.
In Puerto Rico, AT&T provides fiber-based connectivity and telecommunications services to enterprise customers over fiber-optic infrastructure that spans over 3,500 route miles.
Liberty and AT&T are two of the three largest wireline telecommunications providers in Puerto Rico and own two of the three most extensive fiber-based network infrastructures on the island.
In October 2019, Liberty and AT&T entered into agreement for Liberty to acquire AT&T's wireless and wireline operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for $1.95 billion in cash. The deal is subject to customary closing adjustments and review by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice.
According to the DoJ, as originally structured, Liberty's acquisition of AT&T operations in Puerto Rico would have eliminated competition for critical fiber-optic-based telecommunications services that businesses in Puerto Rico rely on every day.
Liberty, LCPR, and AT&T were ordered to divest certain wireline telecommunications assets and customer accounts in Puerto Rico to WorldNet or to an alternative purchaser approved by the United States. Specifically, the settlement requires the sale of (a) the fiber-based Columbus network in the metropolitan San Juan area that Liberty acquired as part of its purchase of Cable & Wireless Communications in 2016; (b) additional fiber assets, including fiber facilities and indefeasible rights of use, on Liberty’s network across the rest of the island; (c) retail fiber-based enterprise customer accounts served by Liberty today, with limited exceptions; (d) the right to pull fiber through Liberty’s conduit and attach fiber to Liberty’s telephone poles; and (e) an option to purchase segments of AT&T’s aerial fiber-based core network. The divestiture will place WorldNet in the position to become a strong competitor in the provision of fiber-based connectivity and telecommunications services to enterprise customers throughout Puerto Rico.
WorldNet, a Puerto Rico corporation with its headquarters in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, is the largest locally owned telecommunications provider in Puerto Rico. WorldNet provides a range of telecommunications services to enterprise and residential customers on the island.
Liberty Latin America split-off from Liberty Global in 2018, being a pure-play independent telecommunications company operating in Chile, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and other parts of Latin America. Its businesses include Cable & Wireless Communications (C&W), operating in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Seychelle. C&W owns and operates an undersea terrestrial network linking more than 40 markets in the region. Telecommunications company and major cable operator in Chile, VTR.com SpA (VTR), and major Puerto Rican cable operator Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico LLC (60% owned) are also Liberty Latin America businesses.