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Comment: Private equity firms pile into auction for Verizon Wireless

Verizon Communications is divesting its wireless telephone assets and at least three private equity firms are reported to be in the running, with Blackstone Group said to have submitted a bid while Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts have made a joint offer. They face competition from trade bidders such as US Cellular and AT&T.

In the end, it will all come down to one factor - money. But why should the bidders be prepared to invest upward of USD3.5bn for the Verizon business? In short, LTE wireless technology.

LTE - it stands for Long Term Evolution - is a high-speed wireless technology that its creators hope will become the standard fourth-generation technology for wireless broadband, based on internet protocols and backed by most of the industry's biggest hardware manufacturers.

Although AT&T and T-Mobile have committed to deploying LTE sometime in the near future, Verizon so far has taken the lead in implementing the technology, and if all goes to plan, it may have a significant time-to-market advantage over its competitors. That might explain why the private equity firms are breaking out of their caution in a bid to get on the ground floor of what could be the next breakthrough communications technology.

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