Centel Buys United TeleSpectrum, Plans To Sell Business Systems Unit
CHICAGO (AP) _ Centel Corp. said Friday it was expanding its cellular telephone business with the $763 million purchase of United TeleSpectrum Inc., a cellular communications subsidiary of United Telecommunications Inc.
Centel, a Chicago-based communications firm with additional interests in cable television, local exchange telephone service and electric power, also will acquire $9.5 million of debt that United TeleSpectrum owes to United Telecommunications, based in Kansas City, Mo.
Centel also announced plans to sell its Centel Business Systems division, a move that may quiet a group of dissident shareholders who have called for a breakup of the company.
″There are conversations ongoing at this point″ with a prospective buyer for the business systems unit, said spokesman Tom Ray, but he refused to identify that party.
The aquisition of United TeleSpectrum will increase Centel’s presence in Southeastern cellular markets and give it a foothold in the Northeast, including New York City and nearby areas of New Jersey, Centel said in a statement.
″This acquisition takes us beyond our stated goal of doubling our cellular holdings and clearly marks Centel Cellular as one of the major players in the industry,″ said John P. Frazee, Centel’s chairman, president and chief executive officer since April 1.
″The acquisition firmly demonstrates our commitment to make cellular communications a major thrust of Centel’s future,″ Frazee said.
By combining its markets with those of United TeleSpectrum, Centel Cellular will have operating control of 40 markets with a total population of 14 million. That will rank Centel Cellular among the country’s top 10 cellular communications companies in total population and second only to McCaw Communications Co. of Kirkland, Wash., in total number of markets.
In addition to its cellular and business systems operations, Centel operates local exchange telephone services, cable television services and electric utilities.