- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2000

Nextel Communications Inc. plans to spin off its international operations today in an initial public offering that could raise nearly $1 billion for the Reston-based wireless service provider, according to documents filed with federal regulators.
The IPO would create Nextel International Inc., in essence the international division of the parent, which would still hold a controlling stake in a company with operations all over Latin America, as well as the Philippines, Japan and Canada.
"We believe that there are significant opportunities for growth in these markets due to relatively low wireless and wire-line penetration rates and increasing income levels," the company states in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company would have operating licenses capable of reaching roughly 382 million people, of which about 149 million are in Latin America. Nextel's international operations currently have roughly 600,000 subscribers.
Nextel International's business would initially focus on densely populated urban areas in Latin America like Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Lima, Peru, and Buenos Aires, the company said.
Nextel has deployed cellular networks based on Motorola's integrated digital enhanced network (iDEN) technology, which provides not only basic cellular service but also text-messaging and a two-way radio service. It has, at times, struggled to build its network quickly enough. Telecommunications pioneer Craig McCaw infused $1.1 billion in 1996 to facilitate its operations.
By going public, Nextel International hopes to raise $920 million, according to its SEC filings.
The parent of the new company is gaining subscribers rapidly, though it has not turned a profit in its 13-year history. Nextel lost $1.33 billion last year on revenues of $3.32 billion, with the international division accounting for $240 million of its losses.
Only 3 percent of its revenues came from international operations, indicating significant potential for strong growth over the next few years.
Nextel's stock has seen significant swings over the past year, from a high of 82.94 in March to a low of 30.75 in September 1999. Its stock closed on Friday at $47.94.

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