French operator Iliad has made a brazen $15 billion bid to scupper the long-rumored Sprint-T-Mobile US merger this Thursday and to try and get a 56.6% stake in the "uncarrier" for itself.
Iliad (Euronext: ILD) is initially offering $15 billion in cash for the majority stake, which would value T-Mobile US Inc. 's stock at $33. Further to that, the French operator says it values the remaining 43.4% of T-Mobile US stock at $40.5 per share.
This would give shareholders an overall value of $36.2 per share. T-Mobile's shares opened at $31.02 on Thursday.
"The US mobile market is large and attractive," Iliad said in a statement. "T-Mobile US has successfully established a disruptive position, which in many ways, is similar to the one Iliad has built in France."
At first sight, the bid looks akin to a minnow trying to swallow a guppy. T-Mobile's current market cap is $24.84 billion, while Iliad's stands at $16 billion.
Nonetheless, Iliad says that it will finance its cash bid through a combination of debt and equity and has the support of international banks to raise acquisition debt money.
Whatever happens, an Iliad bid puts more heat on a oft-rumored $32 billion hook-up between Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US. Any potential merger between the number three and four US wireless operators would always face intense security by government authorities as well. (See Sprint, T-Mobile Settle on $32B Price.)
"This transaction should not raise any antitrust issue in light of the competition rules given that Iliad is not present in the United States," Iliad writes of its bold bid.
T-Mobile's shares are now trading up around 5.82% at $32.74.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading