NEW YORK — AT&T Capital Corp., which has helped thousands of companies pay for communications equipment, will be sold to its top managers and an investor group for $2.2 billion, AT&T Corp. said Thursday.
The sale is indirectly related to AT&T's breakup into three companies. It had been planned since the breakup was announced in September, although, as a practical matter, AT&T Capital has been running independently for years and has even had its own stock issue since July 1993.
The buyers include AT&T Capital managers as well as GRS Holding Co., which owns a rail-leasing company in Britain, and Babcock & Brown, a San Francisco-based financing company. Chief Executive Tom Wajnert is part of the team acquiring the firm and will remain in charge.
The buyers are paying $45 a share for the 86% of AT&T Capital that Basking Ridge, N.J.-based AT&T owns. That is a slight premium above AT&T Capital's $41-a-share value at the close of stock trading Wednesday. On Thursday, AT&T Capital's shares were up $3 to $44 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Major debt-rating agencies lowered their ratings on AT&T Capital, saying its creditor protection would diminish as a stand-alone firm and its debt level would increase because of the buyout.
Last year, Morristown, N.J.-based AT&T Capital earned $127 million on revenue of $1.57 billion. It had assets of $9.5 billion and managed assets of $2.3 billion.