AT&T goodbye to Yellow Pages for mobile focus

News from the business side of the mobile world today is that AT&T is saying goodbye to most of its interest in Yellow Pages. The major U.S. carrier is selling a majority stake in the Yellow Pages part of its business to Cerberus Capital Management LP in a move that strengthens its intentions to focus on mobile devices and wireless Internet.

The deal is worth $950 million with Cerberus paying around $750 in cash and a further $200 debt note to AT&T and the giant carrier retaining a 47% ownership stake in the new set-up, called YP Holdings LLC. The development sees a move away from AT&T’s legacy businesses but will not surprise too many people given the fact that wireless profits are booming.

As more and more customers turn to mobile devices and wireless Internet the traditional parts of the business are becoming less important to AT&T. The Yellow Pages segment of business for AT&T had seen a drop in revenue to $3.3 billion in 2011, a drop over two years of 30%, according to the WSJ, a sure sign of the increasing impact of Web services such as Yahoo and Google for people looking for directory information about businesses.

It’s all part of the bigger picture whereby AT&T’s wireline unit operating revenue fell 2.5% last year though wireless unit operating revenue rose by 8.1%. The deal is expected to be finalized by the middle of this year subject to a review by the U.S. Justice Department, although AT&T does not expect the development to have any major effect on earnings for 2012. A spokeswoman for AT&T told how the deal would enable the company to concentrate on its core business.

Meanwhile Cerberus said that it would “explore new avenues of online and mobile growth” for its acquisition, although no further details were forthcoming. The YP division employs around 8,400 people with around half of those belonging to unions. If you want to see another take on this development we’ve embedded an interesting video below this story with David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times discussing this news.

What are your thoughts on AT&T’s plans to sell off its majority share of YP? Let us know with your comments.

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