Shares of Straight Path Communications Inc. (NYSEMKT: STRP) soared 436.1% in 2017, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, after an intriguing bidding war ended with the wireless spectrum company's agreeing to let Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) acquire it.
More specifically, on May 11, 2017, Verizon agreed to pay $184 per share for Straight Path, representing an enterprise value of approximately $3.1 billion.
That's not to say it was a straight line to the top for Straight Path investors. Rather, Straight Path kicked off its remarkable year with more than a 30% single-day pop in mid-January, after it announced it had settled in a previously announced FCC investigation into whether certain of its spectrum assets were renewed under questionable circumstances.
According to the terms of that settlement, Straight Path agreed to pay a $15 million civil penalty and surrender 93 of its 828 total 39 GHz spectrum licenses to the FCC. Straight Path also agreed to sell its remaining 39 GHz and 28 GHz licenses within one year, lest it pay an even larger penalty or surrender those licenses to the FCC.
As it turns out, telecom giants were quick to pounce on those assets, which are expected to play a key role enabling the ongoing rollouts of their respective 5G networks. In April, Straight Path shares jumped 150% in a single day, after the company initially agreed to let AT&T (NYSE: T) acquire it for $95.63 per share, or an enterprise value of $1.6 billion.
But shortly thereafter, an unnamed competitor -- which we now know was Verizon -- stepped in to repeatedly drive up that price with its own superior bids. In the market's subsequent frenzy, however, investors at one point had bid Straight Path stock to over $235 per share on the hope that the bidding war would persist.
Alas, Verizon's $184-per-share offer is final, which is why Straight Path has hovered just below that level since the deal was struck in May. And don't feel too bad for AT&T; Verizon agreed to pay it a $38 million termination fee on behalf of Straight Path per the terms of the now-broken agreement.
As for anyone still holding on to their Straight Path shares today, the acquisition -- which will be done as an all-stock, tax-free reorganization -- was expected to be completed within nine months of the May agreement, pending an FCC review. Barring any hiccups in that review, that means we should see it close between now and the middle of March.
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