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US phone company makes $6 billion acquisition

US phone company Alltel has agreed to buy Western Wireless for $6 billion to expand its customer base in the West of the country and become the fifth-largest U.S. wireless carrier. Alltel, which primarily courts rural customers, said in a statement it would offer $9.25 in cash and 0.535 of an Alltel share for each Western Wireless share. Alltel said that in total it would issue about 60 million shares, pay $1 billion in cash and assume $1.5 billion in debt.

Alltel said Western Wireless has about 1.4 million domestic wireless customers in 19 western and midwestern states and 1.6 million international customers in six countries. Alltel now has more than 13 million customers in 26 states.

Alltel will end up with 10 million domestic wireless customers serving a population of 72 million in 33 states after the deal, which is expected to close in the middle of this year and add to earnings per share in 2006.

Stephens Inc. and Merrill Lynch advised Alltel, which also received a fairness opinion from Goldman Sachs. Alltel's legal adviser was Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

Bear, Stearns & Co advised Western Wireless, whose lawyers were Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP.

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