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Pay-TV operator Dish Network is reportedly back in the frame as a potential suitor to T-Mobile’s cellular assets in the US.
August 13th saw a $15 billion take-over bid (at $33 a share) for T-Mobile from French cellular operator Iliad firmly rejected as being “inadequate”. Iliad trades as Free Mobile in France. The bid looked to buy 56.6 per cent of T-Mobile, which is the USA’s 4th-largest cellular operator. T-Mobile’s CFO Braxton Carter politely called the bid flattering but hinted that people very rarely come to the table with their very best offer.
T-Mobile is 67 per cent owned by Deutsche Telekom, and last week the German telco said it was open to selling but only at the right price. However, the US regulator is keen to preserve the number of competing telcos in the US market which is why back in 2011 a potential merger between AT&T and T-Mobile was disallowed.
Iliad becomes the latest to take a close look at T-Mobile (Softbank-owned Sprint has been doing the same), but Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network is also a potential player. Back in May (when it was Sprint’s name mostly in the frame) Ergen admitted that it was unlikely to enter a bidding war for T-Mobile but that the cellular company could be of “strategic interest” should its merger with Sprint fail.
The advantage for T-Mobile in a closer relationship with Dish is Ergen’s very large portfolio of spectrum assets, which would help make any relationship more of a merger than a take-over.