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AT&T eyeing more asset sales, details share buyback scheme

AT&T Inc. is looking at selling its regional sports networks as well as additional real estate and tower assets in a bid to meet its target of monetizing up to $10 billion of nonstrategic assets by 2020.

The U.S. carrier expects the sale of its stake in Central European Media Enterprises Ltd. and the divestment of its wireless business in Puerto Rico to be completed by the middle of next year, President and COO John Stankey told shareholders Dec. 10.

Stankey added that AT&T initiated a $4 billion accelerated share buyback program that would see 100 million of its shares retired in the first quarter of next year. The company recently raised about $1.2 billion in a preferred equity offering.

AT&T also plans to continue its capital and content investments, while also seeking to achieve a yearly reduction of 6% to 8% in network operational costs. At the same time, the telco expects to have fully paid the debt related to its acquisition of Time Warner Inc., now Warner Media LLC, by end-2022, Stankey said.

AT&T earlier unveiled a three-year strategic plan that sought to appease concerns from activist shareholder Elliott Management Corp.