Liberty Latin America Ltd has struck a deal with Dish Network to acquire Dish's spectrum assets in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

The deal also includes 120,000 prepaid mobile subscribers in those markets in exchange for cash and international roaming credits.

Dish Network
– Wikimedia/hoot2012

Dish Networks has agreed to sell the assets as it looks to ease its debt, which reportedly totals around $21 billion, with $5 billion due in 2024 and 2025.

Liberty LatAm will pay $256 million for the assets, which will be paid in four annual installments commencing on the closing date, which is expected in 2024.

The transaction is subject to certain customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

“This transaction reinforces our commitment to Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) and showcases our intention to optimize service for our mobile customers," said Vivek Khemka, SVP, Liberty Latin America.

"Upon completion of the spectrum acquisition, we will have valuable low, mid, and high band spectrum that will allow us to add more capacity, increase speeds, and further strengthen our 5G mobile network. We are also pleased to bring approximately 120,000 wireless subscribers to our business, which will increase our scale in the prepaid market and expand our sales channels.”

Liberty LatAm noted that it expects to fund the transaction through local liquidity sources, including cash on hand, cash generated from operations, cash generated from asset sales, and/or revolving credit facilities.

Liberty LatAm operates in more than 20 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean under the consumer brands BTC, Flow, Liberty, and MásMóvil, and through ClaroVTR, its JV in Chile.

Tom Cullen, EVP of corporate development, Dish Network, added: “This transaction will enhance competition within the wireless market in Puerto Rico and the USVI, while providing Dish with additional capital to focus on our wireless business in the United States.”

Dish recently announced it will merge with satellite communications vendor EchoStar. Both companies are owned by billionaire Charles Ergen. Dish has been focusing heavily on its cellular offerings and hit its 5G broadband coverage target set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as the company extended its coverage to over 70 percent of the US population in June.

Last month, Dish and T-Mobile agreed to extend the deadline for which Dish has to purchase T-Mobile’s 800MHz spectrum after previously missing the August deadline to do so.