Post Sprint Merger Collapse, T-Mobile Balks at Iliad Bid

By Josh Long Comments
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**Editor's Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest communications mergers in Q2 2014.**

Iliad will have to sweeten its bid for T-Mobile US Inc. if it wants to control the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier.

The French mobile company confirmed last month that it submitted a bid to T-Mobile’s board, offering $15 billion in cash in exchange for a 56.6 percent stake in the company. Iliad is the parent company of Free, which served roughly 5.7 million broadband subscribers and 8.6 million mobile customers as of March 31, 2014, according to its website.

Although Iliad’s offer was “very flattering," it was “a very inadequate value proposition," T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter said Wednesday at an investor conference, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Deutsche Telekom AG owns a 67 percent stake in T-Mobile. Should Iliad continue to pursue T-Mobile, the Bellevue, Washington-based carrier may be in the driver’s seat.

The carrier has been performing well, adding more than 1 million customers in each of the last five quarters, and exceeding a customer count of 50 million as of June 30. T-Mobile’s offer to reimburse customers for early termination fees (imposed by rivals) in exchange for their business has appealed to customers.

A larger American carrier that has struggled with losses was said to have been in talks to merge with T-Mobile until recently when Sprint reportedly abandoned the conversations in the face of opposition from U.S. regulators.

After the talks reportedly collapsed, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “Four national wireless providers is good for American consumers."

Iliad said a deal with T-Mobile shouldn’t raise antitrust issues since Iliad doesn’t have a presence in the United States.

Three years ago, the U.S. Justice Department moved in federal court to block AT&T’s $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile due to concerns that the merger was anti-competitive. AT&T later withdrew its offer — and the number of big wireless carriers has remained at four since that time with AT&T and Verizon Wireless leading the pack with more than 200 million subscribers combined.

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