Sprint's Dangerous Assumptions
John Zhang • 47 Comments
John Zhang • 47 Comments
Jun. 2, 2015, 6:46 PM
- Mogul John Malone floated an interesting idea today: Forget Sprint and T-Mobile -- the wireless industry could get its third major alternative to Verizon and AT&T (NYSE:T) with the merger of Charter Communications (CHTR -1.6%) and Time Warner Cable (TWC -0.9%).
- Malone was speaking at his various Liberty companies' annual meetings and noted that in 2012, the cable consortium SpectrumCo got an option to participate in a wireless MVNO service with Verizon (NYSE:VZ) after the wireless firm bought $3.9B in frequencies.
- Charter wasn't in SpectrumCo then, but merger partners TWC and Bright House are. “The concept that Comcast, a greatly enlarged Charter and Cox could together offer a WiFi-optimized connectivity service with a default to a Verizon MVNO is an interesting concept," Malone said.
- He thinks "there's very little dirty underwear" left to be found in a regulatory review of Charter-TWC after the past year's scrutiny.
- Also of interest regarding Charter capex and the dividend: “Everybody's going to say, ‘Oh he’s spending too much capital,’ but I think the end result with be worth it ... To a large degree we’re betting on Tom Rutledge and his team to wake up a sleepy cable company that was treading water in all honesty for a while and trying to satisfy shareholder pressures with buybacks and dividends as opposed to putting the money into having a competitive service offering.”
- Malone company shares today: LMCA -0.1%; LMCB flat; LMCK flat; LTRPA -0.9%; LTRPB +2.2%; QVCA +0.8%; LBRDA +0.1%; OTCQB:LBRDB flat; LBRDK -0.1%.
Mar. 27, 2015, 8:58 PM
- Glenn Lurie, CEO of AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), says he's not worried about the outcome if Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) -- third and fourth in the U.S. wireless market behind AT&T and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) -- decide to merge.
- "We are a very, very different company than the other three," he tells FierceWireless. "So whatever happens with them, I'm not really that concerned. I'm concerned about how we execute and how we operate."
- His No. 1 goal, Lurie says, is to reduce churn and preserve the company's current subscribers in order to upsell other services.
- Chatter continues to suggest that Sprint and T-Mobile may have to think about combining to achieve competitive scale, and in the meantime they're firing salvos in a price war that Lurie says AT&T won't join: "This industry is not commoditized at all."
- Previously: Goldman upgrades T-Mobile; DT reiterates merger wish (Jan. 20 2015)
Feb. 3, 2015, 2:24 AM
- A new Bloomberg report suggests that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has discussed acquiring some RadioShack (NYSE:RSH) locations, joining other potential bidders, including Sprint (NYSE:S) and investment group Brookstone.
- Amazon would use the stores as showcases for its hardware, as well as potential pickup and drop-off centers for online customers.
- The NYSE suspended trading of RadioShack's shares yesterday, after it failed to have an average market value of at least $50M for 30 straight days.
Feb. 2, 2015, 1:45 PM
- RadioShack (RSH -20.5%) might sell half of its stores to Sprint (S -0.3%) as part of a bankruptcy arrangement, reports Bloomberg.
- Sources say the remainder of the electronics chain's stores will be closed under the proposed deal.
- A co-branding partnership with Sprint or a last-minute acquisition of RadioShack by a new player are also scenarios which are still possible.
- Previously: Standard General likely act as lead bidder for RadioShack (Feb. 02 2015)
Aug. 5, 2014, 6:58 PM
- The WSJ reports Sprint (NYSE:S) is abandoning its bid to acquire T-Mobile USA (NYSE:TMUS) due to excessive regulatory hurdles.
- There were already many doubts about the ability of a Sprint/T-Mobile deal to pass muster with regulators.
- If Sprint is out of the picture, the coast is clear for Iliad (OTC:ILIAF) to pursue T-Mobile, provided financing isn't an issue. There were multiple reports earlier today indicating T-Mobile is rejecting Iliad's initial $33/share offer for a 56.6% stake.
- TMUS -5.6% AH
- Related tickers: OTCQX:DTEGY, OTCPK:SFTBF
Aug. 5, 2014, 3:59 PM
- The WSJ reports T-Mobile USA (TMUS +0.8%) has rejected Iliad's (OTC:ILIAF) request for access to its books, and won't change its mind in the absence of a better bid. The FT reports a formal rejection of Iliad's $33/share offer for a 56.6% stake in T-Mobile could arrive tomorrow.
- As it is, Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) was reported to have liked Sprint's (S -1.4%) offer better. Sprint and parent SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBF) are rumored to be offering ~$40/share, but their bid also carries much more regulatory risk.
- Reuters reports Iliad is talking with investors for help in sweetening its offer. Sources state the carrier has engaged pay-TV providers Dish , Cox, and Charter, as well as infrastructure, pension, and sovereign wealth funds.
- The news service adds DT is (not surprisingly) skeptical about Iliad's claim a merger between a French carrier and a U.S. carrier will yield $10B in synergies.
Aug. 1, 2014, 4:20 PM
- "If two of the largest companies are able to bid as one combined entity in the auction, their combined resources may have the effect of suppressing meaningful competition," says the FCC in a blog post. The post outlines a proposal by chairman Tom Wheeler that bars carriers from jointly bidding in next year's huge low-frequency spectrum auctions.
- The WSJ reported two weeks ago Sprint (S +1.4%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +1.4%), each of whom have a dearth of low-frequency spectrum relative to AT&T and Verizon, plan to form a JV that would raise $10B to jointly bid in the auction. The funds would be obtained through a $45B financing package SoftBank is lining up for a Sprint/T-Mobile merger.
- "It’s certainly a hint that they are predisposed against a merger," says analyst Craig Moffett about the FCC's stance. Prospective T-Mobile acquirer Iliad (OTC:ILIAF) must be pleased.
Aug. 1, 2014, 4:08 AM
Jul. 31, 2014, 3:58 PM
- Sources tell Bloomberg T-Mobile USA (TMUS +6.7%) parent Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) views Iliad's (OTC:ILIAF) $33/share offer for a 56.6% stake in T-Mobile as less competitive than Sprint's (S -5.9%) bid, previously reported to be around $40/share.
- Though Iliad declares its bid values the T-Mobile shares it won't own at $40.50, that figure includes $10B worth of synergies the French carrier predicts a merger will yield. Sprint and SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBF), of course, predict their offer would also yield major synergies.
- "Iliad is about a third of the size of T-Mobile US, and we don't think there would be synergies from the deal," says analyst Jonathan Chaplin. He adds a deal will be tough to finance without Iliad founder/majority shareholder Xavier Neil surrendering control.
- Nonetheless, T-Mobile has rallied to $33 on news of Iliad's bid, which is bound to face less FCC/DOJ scrutiny if accepted and successfully financed.
- The offer is overshadowing a solid Q2 report from T-Mobile. The carrier saw 1.5M net customer adds in Q2 (up from 1.3M in Q1), slightly more than Verizon's Q2 adds and well above AT&T and Sprint's. Branded postpaid net adds totaled 908K (579K phone adds), and branded prepaid net adds 102K. Service revenue rose 7.1% Y/Y.
Jul. 31, 2014, 1:02 PM
- France's Iliad (OTC:ILIAF) is offering $15B in cash for a 56.6% stake in T-Mobile USA (TMUS +7.3%) at a price of $33/share. Iliad values the remaining 43.4% at $40.50/share. Sprint (S -5.3%) has been reported to be planning a ~$40/share deal.
- Iliad says it has obtained financing from unnamed banks, and would also do a capital raise to help pay for the deal. One issue: Iliad has a current market cap of just $16B, less than T-Mobile's $24.8B and Sprint's $30.6B. Sprint has reportedly lined up a $40B+ debt package to finance a T-Mobile deal.
- A source tells the WSJ Iliad, which has upended the French mobile market with its aggressive pricing, views a T-Mobile merger as a "one-time opportunity to enter the world's-largest telecoms market."
- Iliad also thinks (perhaps with good reason, given FCC/DOJ remarks) regulators will be more comfortable with its bid than Sprint's, since Iliad has no U.S. presence.
- AT&T (T -2%) and Verizon (VZ -2.3%) have joined Sprint in selling off, as investors mull the possibility of a deal that would leave the number of nationwide U.S. carriers at 4. Concerns about Iliad's pricing history might also be weighing on shares.
- Related tickers: OTCPK:SFTBF, OTCQX:DTEGY
- Earlier: Iliad reportedly bids for T-Mobile USA
Jul. 31, 2014, 11:54 AM
Jul. 30, 2014, 3:42 AM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) are not likely to announce a merger before September, Reuters reports. The two are still preparing a detailed case for a deal to appease U.S. regulators.
- Last month it was announced that Sprint would pay around $40 per share for T-Mobile, valuing the latter at nearly $32B.
- Besides for formulating their strategy to clear regulatory scrutiny, other details such as break-up fees still have to be hammered out.
Jul. 15, 2014, 6:41 AM
- Sprint (NYSE:S) Chairman Masayoshi Son is facing higher lending fees for financing the purchase of T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), as lenders are expecting a lengthy approval process.
- As of now, the plan includes a drop-dead date of 18 months after the deal’s announcement - at which point it could be terminated. That deadline could also be extended.
- The Sprint takeover review can take at least a year to evaluate, and may not even be approved by regulators insisting on preserving four competitors in the U.S. wireless market. The DOJ previously sued AT&T in 2011 to block its effort to acquire T-Mobile.
Jul. 11, 2014, 1:32 PM
- The Nikkei reports SoftBank (SFTBF) is close to a deal for a Sprint (S +4.4%)/T-Mobile (TMUS +1.9%) merger. Shares of both companies have moved higher.
- Reuters reported 3 weeks ago Sprint and T-Mobile were looking to announce a deal around August, and that the former had lined up a $40B+ debt package. Prior reports mentioned a ~$40/share T-Mobile acquisition price and a $2B breakup fee.
- T-Mobile is still below $34, as doubts about regulatory support for a deal remain high.
- Prior Sprint/T-Mobile coverage
Jun. 19, 2014, 6:06 PM
- Sprint (S) has "lined up eight banks" to finance a T-Mobile (TMUS) acquisition, Reuters reports. The companies will reportedly "seek to finalize details of the financing in the coming month so they could announce a merger around August."
- The financing includes a $40B+ debt package featuring a ~$20B bridge loan from Sprint parent SoftBank (SFTBF), and a $20B refinancing of T-Mobile's present debt. Sprint currently has $26.6B in net debt, and T-Mobile roughly $9B.
- Bloomberg reported on June 4 Sprint and T-Mobile were near a deal valuing the latter at ~$40/share. CNBC reported last Friday the companies had agreed on a $2B breakup fee, and to have the post-merger company (should regulators allow it to exist) go under the T-Mobile name.
- S +0.5% AH. TMUS +0.9%.
Jun. 18, 2014, 5:13 AM
- T-Mobile (TMUS) is looking to purchase a few smaller competitors to hedge itself in case a Sprint (S) merger does not come down the pipe.
- The smaller carriers have a "low-band spectrum", which offers greater service in urban areas due to its ability to penetrate buildings. The company is looking for this advantage in order increase its share in the metropolitan market.