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AT&T turns to Lazard for advice on DirecTV deal -sources

NEW YORK, May 14 (Reuters) - AT&T Inc is working with investment bank Lazard Ltd as it negotiates a potential takeover of DirecTV, the country's top satellite TV operator, according to people familiar with the matter.

AT&T is in active discussions to buy DirecTV for low to mid-$90s per share, or nearly $50 billion, and is working to finalize a deal in the next few weeks, Reuters reported on Monday.

Lazard, which advised Leap Wireless International on its $1.2 billion sale to AT&T last year, is advising the wireless giant this time around, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is not public.

The company has yet to bring in large balance sheet banks for deal financing, according to the people, indicating that any deal may take a few more weeks to materialize.

Representatives for AT&T declined to comment while Lazard did not respond to requests for comment.

Reuters and others previously reported that DirecTV is working with advisers including Goldman Sachs Group to weigh a potential deal with AT&T.

The proposed deal, if it happens, would be a big fee-paying event for Wall Street banks that are enjoying a revival in mergers and acquisitions after several years of lackluster activity following the financial crisis.

Based on a roughly $48 billion deal, advisers for AT&T could earn between $40 million and $60 million in advisory fees, while DirecTV's advisers could earn $50 million to $75 million, according to preliminary estimates by consulting firm Freeman & Co LLC. Those figures do not include any financing fees.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)