T-Mobile Subtly Hypes Potential DISH Merger Following Sprint Pullout

**Editor’s Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Q2 2014.**

DISH Network, rumored to be a potential acquirer of T-Mobile, appears to be getting wooed by America’s fourth-largest wireless operator.

Sprint earlier this month pulled its $32 billion bid for T-Mo, citing concerns that regulators might shut it down. France-based wireless operator Iliad also made a play to buy part of the Magenta Network, but that $15 billion offer has been pooh-poohed by execs at T-Mobile and its parent company, Deutsche Telekom.

If a deal could be made, “we would certainly very rapidly deploy on [Dish’s] spectrum,” T-Mobile CFO J. Braxton Carter said, according to a LightReading report. Carter played coy, however, noting that DISH CEO Charlie Ergen is a tough negotiator. No deal is in the works, he added. Carter further said that the Iliad bid was not only “inadequate,” but “uninteresting” because it undervalued his company.  

“The ‘breakup’ of the would-be combination of Sprint and T-Mobile looks to be more like the beginning than the end of intrigue in the U.S. mobile market,” noted 451 Research principal analyst Rich Karpinski. “Spectrum-rich DISH remains the wildcard player; its spectrum  and broadcast airwaves soon to be auctioned off are important enablers to help some lucky operator meet the growing demand for mobile bandwidth (if it doesn’t get gouged at the negotiating table or auction). Meanwhile, T-Mobile’s out-of-hand rejection of Iliad’s bid says more about how U.S. operators value themselves these days than a blanket rejection of foreign dollars. If you want a piece of red-hot T-Mobile, it’s going to cost you. Barring blockbuster deals, look for price competition and attempts to differentiate via innovation to ramp up even further among the four major U.S. operators. None are willing to cede ground in this important moment in the market’s evolution.”

T-Mobile can certainly get a higher bid today than it could just a year ago. The company has had great success adding customers thanks to its “uncarrier” initiative, which eliminated two-year contracts for new customers. 

DISH Network has long been interested in becoming a player in the wireless market. Previous bids for Sprint and Clearwire were unsuccessful.

 Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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