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Three Private-Equity Groups Are Eyeing Alltel: WSJ

U.S. rural wireless telecoms service provider Alltel is being pursued by at least three groups of private-equity buyers about a potential purchase, the Wall Street Journal said on its Web site on Wednesday.

The groups include Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners; TPG Capital and the private-equity arm of Goldman Sachs; and Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the Journal said, citing unnamed sources.

The companies have begun meetings with Alltel's management, the Journal said, adding that more groups may be formed.

Alltel and representatives of the private-equity groups could not immediately be reached for comment.

Alltel had fueled speculation that it was up for sale after its executives said during its earnings conference call on Feb. 20 that the company was reviewing its strategic options.

Analysts had said that the company could be sold for $25 billion to $30 billion, with potential suitors including private equity firms and rivals such as Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group , AT&T and Sprint Nextel .

The Journal cited unnamed sources as saying that Verizon had been put off by the high price of a deal.

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