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Investors cheer AT&T, T-Mobile USA deal

Investors cheered AT&T Inc.'s deal to snap up Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA in a $39-billion transaction that reshapes the U.S. wireless landscape.

The news of the deal, which sent shares of both companies higher in early trade, prompted at least four brokerages to upgrade the stock.

The deal, announced on Sunday, combines the second and fourth largest wireless operator, creating a new leader that will control 43 per cent of the U.S. wireless market.

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While there are regulatory risks and AT&T is seen paying heavily to land the deal, AT&T shares were up 2 per cent in early trade.

Deutsche Telekom rose 13 per cent to a record high.

Sprint Nextel Corp., which had held talks to combine with T-Mobile, stands to be the biggest loser in the transaction, as it would be left as the distant third in the U.S market. Its shares were down 12 per cent.

Shares of other wireless carriers, including MetroPCS Communications and Leap Wireless both soared over 8 per cent on the hope that AT&T's deal would kick off another round of consolidation.

"This deal, if approved, allows Deutsche Telekom to exit the United States at a price much higher than we included in our sum of the parts valuation for the business as a standalone," said UBS analysts, who upgraded the stock to "neutral" from "sell."

The pricey purchase is likely to attract intense antitrust scrutiny over potentially higher customer bills.

Still, "given the solid valuation, and the fact that we thought T-Mobile USA would struggle to meet targets, selling is a good move," UBS said.

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UniCredit and ESN/Equinet upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold." HSBC raised its rating on shares of Deutsche Telekom and AT&T to "overweight."

Shares of Deutsche Telekom were trading at €10.80 in morning trade. AT&T shares traded at $28.49; and Sprint shares lost 71 cents, trading at $4.41 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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