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AT&T buys DirecTV for nearly US$50 bil.

NEW YORK--U.S. telecommunications giant AT&T clinched a deal Sunday to acquire broadcast satellite service provider DirecTV for nearly US$50 billion, the latest in a string of pay TV consolidation moves.

The cash and stock deal, approved unanimously by both boards, will see AT&T purchase DirecTV for US$95 per share, for a total equity value of US$48.5 billion and a total transaction value of US$67.1 billion, including DirecTV's net debt.

A merger between the two companies would create a potent rival to cable TV giant Comcast, which hopes to expand its coverage with the pending takeover of Time Warner Cable.

DirecTV has about 20 million customers, making it the number-two pay-TV company in the United States. It also has more than 18 million customers in Latin America.

The planned merger is a response to other tie-ups announced three months ago, with top cable operator Comcast planning to buy number two Time Warner Cable for US$45.2 billion, or US$66.9 billion including debt.

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