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AT&T is approaching smaller rivals including MetroPCS and Leap Wireless (Cricket) to sell spectrum and subscribers as part of an attempt to save its $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA, reports Bloomberg.

AT&T has also reached out to CenturyLink, Dish Network and Sprint Nextel to gauge their interest in buying assets, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private, says Bloomberg.

AT&T, based in Dallas, is seeking ways to salvage its agreement to acquire T-Mobile USA from Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom after the Justice Department sued on Aug. 31 to stop the deal. The talks with competitors are preliminary and may not lead to a deal, and the Justice Department may also deem the remedies insufficient, the people said.

The company and the DOJ are scheduled to meet in court Sept. 21 to explore whether a settlement may be reached. The case is the Department of Justice v. AT&T, T-Mobile US A, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 11-01560.

Both the U.S. House and Senate have held hearings, but only the Department of Justice and the FCC have the official power to approve or deny the merger. And we haven’t heard (officially) from the FCC yet.

Meanwhile seven states have joined the Justice Department’s lawsuit to stop AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA. Attorneys general from California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have signed onto the effort to stop the megamerger.

AT&T said Friday it was confident the deal would go forward. “It is not unusual for state attorneys general to participate in DOJ merger review proceedings or court filings,” AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris told Reuters.

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