T-Mobile Denies Iliad Access to Its Books, Reportedly Calling $15B Bid Dead on Arrival

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T-Mobile has put the kibosh on France-based Iliad SA’s request to see its confidential financial information.

That’s according to a report this afternoon from the Wall Street Journal, which says Iliad wants to see T-Mobile’s books so it can conduct due diligence toward a formal offer. Iliad last week made a surprise bid for the fourth-largest wireless operator in the United States, just as Sprint is said to be working to buy T-Mobile.

But Iliad’s offer came in at less than half of Sprint’s – $15 billion, compared to a reported $32 billion.

As such, the WSJ says T-Mobile is denying Iliad access to its data. One anonymous source quoted by the WSJ called the Iliad bid “dead on arrival,” since it was so low, and that there is “no meaningful dialogue” between the two firms.  

Another anonymous source, however, says there’s discussion on Iliad’s side about whether to raise its offer.

Iliad swooped in out of nowhere last week with its $15 billion proposal. The move came as Sprint is reported to be prepping its own T-Mobile purchase. Sprint, the third-largest wireless provider in the United States, reportedly has been ironing out regulatory wrinkles, since industry experts expect a Sprint-T-Mobile pairing to face intense government scrutiny.

And that’s why some speculate Iliad could stand a chance at T-Mobile – that deal would not add to the telecom sector’s consolidation trend. Still, because Iliad doesn’t have the level of backing that Sprint’s owner, SoftBank Corp. of Japan, does, analysts remain skeptical that the deal would save costs.

An Iliad-T-Mobile deal would combine similar cultures of brashness and risk-taking, however. Iliad is led by Xavier Niel (who once oversaw a sex-chat service and spent in jail), who has taken the incumbent providers in France to task with his dirt-cheap voice and data plans.

Similarly, T-Mobile, with John Legere at the helm, has turned into one of AT&T and Verizon’s biggest nightmares with tactics including assuming users’ ETFs and offering unlimited data for music streaming.

Sprint, for its part, remains less outwardly aggressive than its potential takeover target. It has devised “family” plans and other strategies it hoped would attract subscribers, yet to mixed success. Some of that boils down to the leadership of CEO Dan Hesse, who is more old guard and seems to play business safer than Legere does.


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