(Adds details on other bidders in paragraph 2)
PHILADELPHIA, May 8 AT&T Inc (T.N) is close to a $2.5 billion deal to acquire the bulk of Alltel Wireless assets being divested by Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), sources familiar with the situation said Friday.
AT&T is expected to buy 18 of 24 assets being divested, the sources said. The remaining six assets remain up for bid, with interested parties including private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co KKR.UL, and other wireless carriers, such as US Cellular (USM.N), one source said.
Verizon closed its acquisition of rural wireless provider Alltel Corp in early January. The merger created the biggest U.S. wireless provider, surpassing AT&T in terms of subscribers.
As part of gaining regulatory approval for the Alltel acquisition, Verizon Wireless was required to divest airwaves in 105 markets. Verizon Wireless is owned by Verizon and Britain's Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L) VOD.N.
Verizon declined to comment. Verizon previously had said more than 30 companies had expressed interest in the Alltel assets.
AT&T, KKR and US Cellular could not be immediately reached for comment. (Reporting by Jessica Hall, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Matthew Lewis) (For more M&A news and our DealZone blog, go to here)