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  • Jun. 17, 2015, 3:45 PM
    | Jun. 17, 2015, 3:45 PM | 9 Comments
  • Jun. 17, 2015, 8:48 AM
    | Jun. 17, 2015, 8:48 AM | 9 Comments
  • Jun. 12, 2015, 5:19 PM
    • Today in telecom consolidation speculation: While Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) have been talking about a deal with upsides for both (and shareholders have driven DISH up 2.6%, TMUS up 1.8% since word broke June 3), they aren't each other's only option.
    • And much of what transpires there depends on T-Mo parent Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) and what it wants to do with an asset that can command top dollar as perhaps the last attainable big U.S. cell provider.
    • “They’re obviously controlled by a German company who has strategic initiatives, both in Europe and the United States, and they may not be in a position where they want to do anything," Dish chief Charlie Ergen said in a Bloomberg TV interview.
    • From Dish's perspective: It doesn't need to rush, as it's making free cash flow and has time to sit on its large spectrum stockpiles yet. Ergen could look for a sale to Verizon (NYSE:VZ), or break the spectrum off into a separate company with a sale-leaseback. In any case, many deals that seemed well under way have been kiboshed by the mercurial Ergen.
    • Fron T-Mobile's: Deutsche Telekom is reportedly worried about an overvalued Dish and getting too much of that stock. T-Mobile could probably command $49/share in a sale, or a 25% premium, says Gabelli's Sergey Dluzhevskiy. One company that wouldn't blink at that price would be Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) in its own quad-play grab.
    • Altice (OTC:ATCEY), which considered a run at Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), could be a long-shot for T-Mobile, or even Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR). And with AT&T expanding in Mexico, how interesting would it be if América Móvil (NYSE:AMX) pumped up its U.S. presence with Big Magenta?
    | Jun. 12, 2015, 5:19 PM | 6 Comments
  • Jun. 11, 2015, 5:45 PM
    • Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) is talking to banks about funding a bid to acquire T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), to the tune of $10B-$15B in borrowing for the cash part of the deal, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
    • T-Mobile is up 3.6% after hours; Dish is up 1.7%.
    • The deal's in early stages, but as discussed, the stock portion would leave T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) with a significant minority stake in the combo.
    • No word on how much Dish would pay for T-Mobile, but talking with banks shows it's moving forward.
    • In the previous discussions, one key issue already seems sorted out among the personality-laden leaders: Dish CEO Charlie Ergen would serve as chairman, while T-Mobile's John Legere would be CEO.
    | Jun. 11, 2015, 5:45 PM | 12 Comments
  • Jun. 9, 2015, 9:33 AM
    • With merger talks ongoing between T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), Timotheus Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) -- T-Mobile's controlling shareholder -- is reportedly more interested in merging T-Mobile spectrum (TMUS -1.2%) with Sprint's (S +1.1%) than in the Dish combo, The New York Post reports.
    • The stance is centered in the idea of creating a valuable combination that would be more appealing for a sale to Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), sources told the paper. Adding Dish Network to T-Mobile makes more sense in the future, but it would kill the chance of a sale to Comcast on regulatory concerns, the sources paraphrased Höttges as saying.
    • There's no word on how he feels about regulatory resistance to combining with Sprint (which reportedly killed such a merger last year).
    • He reportedly told investors at last week's RBC Capital Markets road show that the Sprint combination would create huge value in teaming up when the broadcast incentive spectrum auction begins in early 2016. Sprint and Dish Network both have swaths of spectrum that would help T-Mobile fill in gaps.
    • Previously: Telecom consolidation game may force Sprint's hand (Jun. 05 2015)
    • Previously: Dish Network, T-Mobile up on report of merger talk; Sprint slips (Jun. 04 2015)
    | Jun. 9, 2015, 9:33 AM | 27 Comments
  • Jun. 5, 2015, 5:39 PM
    • The current wisdom holds that Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) combination bid might have a relatively easy time with regulators, and it shouldn't face debt problems either, says one analyst.
    • “Dish bond covenants are very loose,” says Covenant Review analyst Scott Josefsberg, and the satellite provider would have “wide latitude to structure a transaction." Meanwhile, T-Mobile covenants allow for the firm to issue at least $10B more in debt. Dish Network has an enterprise value of $45.8B; T-Mobile's is $52.9B.
    • Meanwhile, Citigroup's Michael Rollins says the other option is clear for spectrum-rich Dish: Sell itself to Verizon (NYSE:VZ).
    • He thinks that's the likely outcome for a number of reasons, including the need for Verizon to keep up with AT&T/DirecTV, the spectrum shortage that Verizon currently faces heading into next year's incentive auction, and the chance for Dish to make a shift to IP video to "dramatically" increase magnitude and duration of video cash flows.
    • He has Dish and T-Mobile rated at Buy and raised T-Mobile's price target to $46, while maintaining Dish's target at $94. Today: DISH +1.7% to $75.51; TMUS +2.3% to $40.24; VZ -1.8% to $47.25.
    | Jun. 5, 2015, 5:39 PM | 6 Comments
  • Jun. 4, 2015, 10:40 AM
    • Dish Network (DISH +5.9%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +4.6%) are on the rise this morning -- and Sprint (NYSE:S) is down 4.2% -- in the wake of reports that Dish and T-Mobile are talking merger.
    • It's not the first time the two have been linked by observers due to strategic sense: T-Mobile needs spectrum and Dish Network has it, and Dish needs growth and broadband service that T-Mobile could provide as AT&T and DirecTV near the closing of their merger. (Though the broadband isn't a perfect fit.)
    • T-Mobile has been amassing wireless spectrum, and while Dish's Charlie Ergen has been circumspect as recently as this week about what the company would do with it, one thing he's made clear is that the company didn't plan to start a wireless network from scratch.
    • A deal may take some time in coming, in part because of its size -- both companies have $30B-plus market caps -- and the fact that the FCC prohibits strategic talks during spectrum auctions, leaving a window before the broadcast incentive auction for discussions.
    • Sprint, meanwhile, is trading down on fears that it could be left out in the cold, having a potential merger with T-Mobile dematerialize last year, and subscriber momentum that is likely to see it passed by T-Mo to fall to the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S., with a cash burn problem to boot.
    | Jun. 4, 2015, 10:40 AM | 16 Comments
  • Jun. 3, 2015, 10:06 PM
    | Jun. 3, 2015, 10:06 PM | 8 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%.
    | Jun. 2, 2015, 6:46 PM | 10 Comments
  • May 27, 2015, 11:13 AM
    • T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) is off 0.6% as Macquarie downgrades shares to Neutral, from Outperform, on concerns that it could get diluted by a share sale from its parent Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) if timely mergers don't come around.
    • One speculated partner is Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), which has been gathering wireless spectrum despite offering no mobile services.
    • T-Mobile's hit Macquarie's target price of $38, the analysts note, and while a move up from around $32 seems to be based on M&A speculation, "We have been down this road before with TMUS and recommend investors take profits at current levels."
    • "We feel the risk/reward is now fairly balanced," says Macquarie's Kevin Smithen, "with a potential DISH bid at $41-$42 fully priced into the stock when adjusting for a lengthy regulatory approval process and potentially adverse reaction to Dish Networks' share price on a merger announcement."
    • Smithen also pointed out T-Mobile has done "two dilutive equity-convert financings over the past 18 months at low prices, with Deutsche Telekom not participating in either offering," so if a Dish tie-up doesn't pan out, DT may not wait around for another go with Sprint.
    | May 27, 2015, 11:13 AM | 1 Comment
  • May 21, 2015, 5:11 AM
    • Deutsche Telkom (OTCQX:DTEGY) will consider any partner that can improve profitability of its U.S. operations, its chief executive said at the company's annual shareholders meeting.
    • "It is our duty to go on improving the return on T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS). If we find a partner who will help us to do so, we will obviously consider it," Tim Hoettges announced.
    • Deutsche Telekom last year tried to sell T-Mobile to Sprint, but the bid was dropped after regulatory resistance.
    | May 21, 2015, 5:11 AM | 2 Comments
  • Apr. 24, 2015, 8:34 AM
    • After a late Thursday board meeting, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has confirmed it's dropping its $45B plan to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) -- a stunning reversal of a 15-month plan, which got less stunning as hurdles began to mount in recent weeks.
    • "Today, we move on," says Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. "Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away." It's a cheap walk-away for Comcast, which had no breakup fee in the deal.
    • What next? Consolidation is still likely in a deeply uncompetitive industry. Other companies are now officially front and center in pursuit of TWC, notably John Malone's Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), which could re-launch its own failed effort. CHTR-TWC would have 16.5M broadband subscribers together, less than Comcast's 22M.
    • Charter's deal with Comcast aimed at divestment and easing the Comcast-TWC transaction also blows up. What about Charter's deal to acquire Bright House?
    • As for Comcast, it could take its stored-up momentum outside of cable -- to someone like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), as BTIG's Rich Greenfield hints? Or to a telecom like T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS)?
    • Updated: Time Warner Cable statement. "We have always believed that Time Warner Cable is a one-of-a-kind asset," says Chairman and CEO Robert D. Marcus. "We are strong and getting stronger."
    | Apr. 24, 2015, 8:34 AM | 23 Comments
  • 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)
    | Mar. 27, 2015, 8:58 PM | 37 Comments
  • Mar. 6, 2015, 8:07 PM
    • More merger hints -- or maybe more than just hints, as T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) CFO Braxton Carter essentially nominates his firm as Dish Network's (NASDAQ:DISH) wireless partner, among some very kind words for Dish CEO Charlie Ergen.
    • Ergen has done a "masterful job of creating a very differentiated mid-band spectrum position,” Carter said.
    • “He’s not interested in building his own network and we would be a very good partner for deploying his spectrum."
    • Ergen's had similar kind words for T-Mobile before -- in a summer 2013 earnings call, he said: "Certainly, T-Mobile ... you could put that together with Dish in a number of ways, including acquisition and merger, and that's probably not possible with the other wireless providers."
    • He added then that he didn't think their options had changed "unless you just look at a full-blown acquisition or a merger and really, that's probably only T-Mobile at this point in time."
    • Ergen's been more circumspect lately, but says video service will be "core" to any tie-up they engage in.
    | Mar. 6, 2015, 8:07 PM | 4 Comments
  • Jan. 20, 2015, 11:28 AM
    • Believing T-Mobile (TMUS +1.4%) will see "an inflection to positive and rapidly growing [free cash flow] in 2015," Goldman's Brett Feldman has upgraded the Un-Carrier to Conviction Buy from Neutral, and hiked its target by $10 to $37.
    • Feldman also thinks T-Mobile will provide strong 2015 EBITDA guidance, thanks to slowing expense growth and higher MetroPCS synergies. He forecasts 2015 EBITDA of $7.7B (above a $7.09B consensus), and has upped his 2015 net postpaid subscriber add estimate by 500K to 3.5M (implies further share gains).
    • Meanwhile, in comments that might be aimed at U.S. politicians and regulators more than investors, Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) CEO Tim Hoettges insists T-Mobile's current approach isn't sustainable, and that a merger is the U.S. subsidiary's best long-term hope for achieving needed scale. "I was intrigued by the idea of having a combination with Sprint and being the ‘super-maverick’ in the market. I hope that the political environment will change at one point in time."
    • T-Mobile and (especially) Sprint plunged last year after Sprint abandoned its merger efforts in the face of FCC/DOJ opposition. T-Mobile's recent postpaid share gains likely influenced regulatory thinking.
    | Jan. 20, 2015, 11:28 AM
  • Jan. 18, 2015, 12:57 PM
    • TechCrunch reports Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is interested in acquiring Softcard, the mobile payments platform launched by AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) in 2010 - it was previously known as Isis, before changing its name for obvious reasons. Though Softcard's owners have invested hundreds of millions in the venture, sources state Google's purchase price could be below $100M.
    • Like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, Softcard relies on NFC radios to enable transactions. And like Wallet, it has struggled to get off the ground, as U.S. consumers overwhelmingly stick with card swipes. Hard data on Apple Pay usage remains limited for now.
    • Softcard recently laid off 60 employees. Meanwhile, it was reported in 2013 that Google had spent $300M on Wallet-related acquisitions, with little to show for it. The adoption of EMV (chip-and-PIN) readers by U.S. retailers could give NFC solutions a boost, by making card payments a little less convenient.
    • The WSJ reports Google is partnering with consulting giant PwC to bid on a $2B+ contract to update the DoD's electronic health records system. PwC says Google's tools could both improve the system's security and performance, and lower costs. A group featuring IBM, HP (NYSE:HPQ), and CSC has made a rival bid.
    • Ad tech firm Marin Software (NYSE:MRIN) provides some encouraging mobile search data ahead of Google's Jan. 29 Q4 report. A Marin study found mobile accounted for 49% of Q4 U.S. search ad spend, up from 42% in Q3, and that smartphone ad click rates were 38% higher than PC rates (thanks in part to accidental clicks?). On the other hand, mobile still only accounted for 32% of conversions.
    • Medium writer Backchannel provides a deep dive into Google Search's evolution in an  era where users increasingly want search engines to know the precise meaning of their queries. Part 1 looks at Google's efforts to optimize for mobile (aided by its Knowledge Graph and Google Now). Part 2 looks at Google's real-world research into the information needs of users. Part 3 looks at Google's investments in A.I./deep learning to deliver far more intelligent search results and spontaneously surface useful information.
    | Jan. 18, 2015, 12:57 PM | 5 Comments