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Report: SoftBank Preps $19B Bid for T-Mobile

Dan Jones
12/27/2013
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Japanese giant SoftBank could be ready to put in a $19 billion bid for T-Mobile US by spring, according to reports out of Asia.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports that sources say that SoftBank Mobile Corp. is in the "final stages" of talks about a deal to buy a majority stake in T-Mobile US Inc. from German owner Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT). The deal would see SoftBank assemble $19 billion from US and other financial institutions so that its Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) subsidiary could bid for T-Mobile.

If such a bid succeeds SoftBank would end up as majority shareholder in a combined Sprint-T-Mobile operation with around 100 million US subscribers. The logic is that this would put the company on a sounder footing to compete with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless , which are both approaching 110 million subscribers. The US wireless market is heavily saturated with 95% of the population -- around 290 million Americans -- using a cellular service.

Any hang-up in the reported SoftBank plans would likely come at the hands of US regulators. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice eventually put the brakes on AT&T's attempt to buy T-Mobile in 2011. (See T-Mobile Gets Spectrum in AT&T Breakup.)

Sprint executives have never ruled out the possibility of a T-Mobile merger. In fact, rumors of a merger have floated around for years.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Dan@LightReadingMobile
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Dan@LightReadingMobile,
User Rank: Blogger
12/31/2013 | 12:58:58 PM
Re: All up to the FCC/DoJ
Yep, which seems to be what has encouraged Son & crew to think they can get to T-Mobile. I still don't see it, myself.
Phil_Britt
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Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/30/2013 | 5:11:47 PM
Re: All up to the FCC/DoJ
Think they both had a hand in it. DoJ did finally let American/U.S. Air merger go through. Not a monopoly, but darn close as far as air travelers are concerned. So DoJ may not be as big of a hurdle, but think FCC will be.
Dan@LightReadingMobile
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Dan@LightReadingMobile,
User Rank: Blogger
12/30/2013 | 5:02:22 PM
Re: All up to the FCC/DoJ
Wait, didn'the DoJ have as much to do with the AT&T T-Mobile collapse as the FCC though?
Dan@LightReadingMobile
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Dan@LightReadingMobile,
User Rank: Blogger
12/30/2013 | 4:43:48 PM
Re: All up to the FCC
Yes, if this comes to pass it will be interesting to see how Wheeler and the other FCC brooms react.
Phil_Britt
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Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/30/2013 | 2:49:08 PM
All up to the FCC
Unless the philosophy has changed greatly at the FCC, and I don't know that it has, this could well go the way of the T-Mobile/AT&T merger.

The FCC may be a little more likely to approve this merger because of Sprint's size. By adding T-Mobile, Sprint would be more competitive with Verizon and AT&T, rather than becoming the dominant player, as woud have happened in a combination of T-Mobile with either of the other two.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/30/2013 | 12:00:14 PM
Re: Strategic integration
Excellent question, because unlimited + uncarrier would be a really hard to beat combo, but probably also not a sustainable one.
Dan@LightReadingMobile
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Dan@LightReadingMobile,
User Rank: Blogger
12/29/2013 | 7:22:04 PM
Re: Merger madness
So, we could stay that Son has risen above regulations
Dan@LightReadingMobile
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Dan@LightReadingMobile,
User Rank: Blogger
12/29/2013 | 7:07:13 PM
Re: Strategic integration
that's a tricky one, remember Hesse has signed a 5 year contract as Sprint CEO for instance.
Ray@LR
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Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
12/29/2013 | 12:25:56 PM
Strategic integration
Even if a merger was allowed, which business strategy would prevail? 'Uncarrier' seems to be working for T-Mob.
KBode
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KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/28/2013 | 11:41:30 AM
Re: Merger madness
"I get the impression that Son thinks he's above regulation and past rulings."

I tend to agree and I simply don't see how this gets approved. Especially after Sprint just got done spending countless hours and millions lobbying to preach about the value of maintaining four distinct competitors in the field. A Dish acquisition still seems more likely, even if everything that seems to come out of Ergen's mouth seems intangible of late.

Who knows though, I'm not sure Wheeler isn't the type to think a T-Mobile and Sprint merger is a good idea.
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