Alltel Pledges to Remain in Little Rock Despite Buyout

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Alltel Corporation's top executive says the company will maintain its headquarters in Little Rock, even with the company being bought out by private investors.

The deal is worth $24.8 billion, factoring in $2.7 billion in debt carried by Alltel.  The investor groups TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners, a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, will pay $27.5 billion in cash for the company.

Alltel is the fifth-largest U.S. wireless firm and it employs 15,000 people.  Three-thousand of those workers are in Arkansas.  Alltel CEO Scott Ford says he will remain in his current role and that company workers should be largely unaffected by the buyout.  He says Alltel's headquarters will remain in Little Rock.

The buyout must be approved by Alltel shareholders and regulators.  The sale is expected to close later this year or in early 2008.

Alltel announced the buyout late last night.

Alltel has about 12 million cellphone customers, mainly in the South, West and Midwest.  That ranks it fifth in number of customers, after Cingular, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, but Ford points out that the company's service "footprint" is larger than any of those rivals.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)