Pre-paid cell phone carrier Virgin Mobile USA today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire post-paid phone carrier Helio, a joint venture between SK Telecom and EarthLink. Under the terms of the agreement, Virgin Mobile USA will acquire Helio from SK Telecom and EarthLink for limited partnership units equivalent to 13 million shares of Virgin Mobile USA class A common stock, with a value of $39 million based on the closing price of Virgin Mobile USA's class A shares on June 26, 2008.
Upon closing, this transaction is expected to achieve a number of important steps for Virgin Mobile USA. Strategically, the acquisition of Helio allows Virgin Mobile USA to add a set of unique and differentiated data applications to its suite of products and services, greatly enhancing its offer across its customer base. Entry into the postpaid market will also give the Company access to approximately 140 million prospective customers.
Virgin Mobile USA also announced today that Virgin Group and SK Telecom will each invest $25 million of equity capital in the Company, creating an aggregate investment of $50 million. The investments will take the form of mandatory convertible preferred stock, convertible to Class A common stock at $8.50 per share, pending shareholder approval. The preferred shares will carry a four year maturity and a 6% annual dividend. Upon approval of Virgin Mobile USA?s shareholders, the preferred stock will convert into Class A common shares when the shares reach the conversion price or upon maturity.
Through its holding of limited partnership units and preferred stock, SK Telecom is expected to own the equivalent of approximately 17% of Virgin Mobile USA, and will take two seats on Virgin Mobile USA?s Board of Directors.
The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2008, subject to receiving regulatory approvals and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.