Is Tracfone Going Out Of Business – Verizon Communications announced Monday that it will buy América Móvil’s wireless service TracFone in a $6.25 billion cash and stock deal. Verizon says it expects that deal to close in the second half of 2021.
The deal will be split into $3.125 billion in cash and $3.125 billion in Verizon common stock. In addition, after the deal closes, Verizon will pay América Móvil:
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While the deal has just been announced, several regulatory hurdles still need to be cleared before it can be approved. With the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, we’ve already seen how long major telecom mergers and acquisitions can take. The FCC should be convinced that this move will actually increase competition and improve the wireless industry as a whole. More to come here and we’ll keep updating on it as it develops.
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Maurice Klaehne is a Senior Analyst with Counterpoint Technology Market Research, based in Boston, USA. He has spent more than five years working as a market researcher and strategy consultant focusing heavily on emerging markets and uncovering new growth opportunities for his clients, including business services, CPG, healthcare and life sciences companies. Maurice holds a master’s degree in International Development and Management from Lund University, Sweden, and an undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Development from McGill University, Canada. He is a native German speaker and fluent in French.
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Verizon announced Tuesday that it has completed its acquisition of prepaid carrier Tracfone, just a day after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to approve the $6 billion deal. Verizon announced the acquisition in September, pending regulatory approval that finally came this week.
“The addition of the TracFone brands firmly establishes Verizon as the provider of choice in the value segment,” Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon’s consumer group, said in a statement.
Verizon said it plans to grow Tracfone’s core brands, which included Straight Talks, Total Wireless and SafeLink, in the future. Tracfone will also continue to offer service as part of the federal Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone and broadband services for low-income Americans.
When the deal was announced, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg tweeted that the company was thrilled to “put Verizon’s full support behind this venture.” It’s another big investment by the wireless carrier, after Verizon spent $53 billion on airwaves this March.
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The FCC’s approval came with a long list of “binding conditions to address potential harms and to ensure that the transaction will be in the public interest,” according to an FCC press release. These conditions are largely focused on keeping Tracfone’s products and services affordable and accessible to low-income consumers and ensuring that Tracfone’s existing customers are not left behind in the transition. The FCC said Verizon would have to maintain existing packages and guarantee affordable 5G products and services to Tracfone customers, among other conditions.
Verizon must regularly report on these conditions and be monitored for more than seven years. The company will also have to “retain an internal company compliance officer and an independent compliance officer to ensure compliance with these commitments for seven and a half years,” according to the FCC’s approval letter. Verizon Communications Inc. agreed to buy TracFone Wireless Inc. from America Movil SAB for up to $6.9 billion, as the largest U.S. wireless carrier seeks to expand its mobile business in the so-called prepaid market.
Verizon will pay $3.125 billion in cash and $3.125 billion in stock, with up to an additional $650 million tied to performance goals, it said in a statement. TracFone, a prepaid mobile phone service in the US, is a subsidiary of billionaire Carlos Slim’s Mexico-based wireless company. It is the largest prepaid service in the US, with 21 million subscribers.
The acquisition comes as Verizon faces fresh pressure from an enlarged T-Mobile US Inc., which completed its merger with Sprint Corp. earlier this year. T-Mobile has 20.6 million prepaid subscribers, with the largest group under the Metro brand. AT&T Inc. has 18 million prepaid subscribers, most of them under its Cricket brand.
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Although Verizon is the largest wireless carrier overall, with 116 million regular monthly subscribers, it has only 4 million prepaid customers.
The down payment market attracts a wide range of people, many young or poor who do not have a strong credit history. While there are higher risks of non-payment and less loyalty than among regular subscribers who pay bills at the end of the month, the prepaid market is also one of the biggest conduits for customers upgrading to higher-priced plans. Verizon never participated in this market.
Verizon, which had sold network capacity to TracFone for 15 years, began talks with America Movil nearly a year ago, said Ronan Dunne, head of Verizon’s consumer business.
“We were looking for a way to control our destiny in the value segment or prepaid segment,” he said. “It’s fair to say that we didn’t serve all segments of the market. So I wanted to make sure we had the scale and distribution to maximize those assets. It’s definitely a doubling down on our commitment to a network strategy.”
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TracFone includes several brands, including Straight Talk and Simple Mobile, which are sold at major retail chains such as Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. The business will remain a separate division and continue to be based in Miami. Dunne said there are no plans to change the TracFone name or any of its brands.
TracFone and America Movil’s operations in Colombia were the company’s only prepaid units to add users in the second quarter, the Mexican mobile giant said in July.
America Movil is strengthening its position throughout Latin America. Last week, Brazil’s Oi SA said it had accepted a 16.5 billion reais ($3.1 billion) bid for its mobile unit from Telefonica Brasil, TIM and America Movil’s Claro. Companies are now considered a “stalking horse” and have the right to top other proposals.
Last year, America Movil also announced the purchase of Telefonica’s assets in Guatemala and El Salvador. While the Guatemala transaction was completed, the company announced last week that regulatory hurdles in El Salvador led it to terminate that deal. Thousands of TracFone users saw their numbers ported to other carriers without their consent / Verizon-owned company says bad actors gained access to customer accounts
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Customers of Verizon-owned TracFone have seen their numbers transferred to different carriers without their consent in recent weeks as part of what the company described as the work of outside hackers, according to a statement on its website (via The Wall Street Journal) . The Straight Talk and Total Wireless brands were also affected.
“We have recently been made aware that bad actors are gaining access to a limited number of customer accounts and, in some cases, fraudulently porting or porting mobile phone numbers to other carriers,” TracFone said in the notice. The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment
Reported that approximately 6,000 customers were affected. Some saw their lines transferred to Metro PCS, which is owned by T-Mobile.
That the company had investigated the issue, “and there is no fraud or data breach of any kind on the part of T-Mobile of these port-outs. More importantly, we never own or host the account number or PIN data that TracFone requires to validate an account and is necessary to conduct a port from a TracFone customer, so this cannot happen on our end in transfer exercise.’ He added that the company is working with TracFone on the matter.
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Steven Simms of Atlanta has been a Total Wireless customer for about three years. He chose the plan to save money and says he and his wife have been happy customers most of the time.
But on Dec. 31, he says his phone number was transferred to another company — Metro PCS — without his permission. “This has disabled my phone number and I cannot receive or make calls,” Simms said in an email to
Earlier this month. He said that as a small business owner, he was losing money because customers couldn’t reach him and the company didn’t seem to have any solutions for him.
Unexpectedly ported their numbers to Metro PCS starting in December. He said Total Wireless customer service was unhelpful and told him he had asked MetroPCS to return his number, which MetroPCS told him was not accurate.
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Simms said his number was eventually returned afterward
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