AT&T Inc. has hired bankers to advise it on selling assets, in a significant step aimed at winning government approval for its planned $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA, according to people familiar with the matter.
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The U.S. telecommunications giant hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to line up buyers of customers and wireless spectrum that could fetch $8 billion or more, the people said. The bank hasn't launched a formal sale process yet, and isn't expected to until closer to the time when AT&T expects to receive regulatory approval for its T-Mobile purchase.
The deal could be green-lighted by the end of the first quarter of 2012. Still, analysts say completion of the deal is far from guaranteed.