Iliad Looks To Join Forces in Pursuit of T-Mobile
French carrier Iliad is courting financial investors in an attempt to bolster its efforts to acquire T-Mobile with a juicier offer, new reports indicate.
According to both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, Iliad is currently in talks with numerous private equity firms, sovereign-wealth funds, and U.S. buyout firms. Iliad Chief Financial Officer Thomas Reynaud said at a press conference in Paris Monday that the carrier had been approached by investors who were interested in teaming up to buy T-Mobile.
"Our offer is probably even more pertinent today after Sprint pulled out of the race," Reynaud said. "It could evolve, though, not necessarily on the value, but on the percentage of the capital."
Iliad announced its interest in taking over T-Mobile in early August, putting forth a deal worth $15 billion. The offer would give Iliad a 56.6 percent stake in the company and would value T-Mobile at $33 per share. T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom AG, however, rejected the bid as too low, despite Iliad's promise of $10 billion in savings. Deutsche Telekom says it would entertain offers that valued T-Mobile between $35 and $40.
"We have an organic business in the US that is going well. That has to be our focus. At the present moment, we do not have an offer on the table that offers additional value on top of what we have organically," said Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges as reported by the Financial Times.
Iliad views T-Mobile as a viable entry into the lucrative U.S. wireless market. T-Mobile currently sits as the No. 4 national carrier, behind Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. The carrier, however, has gained a maverick reputation for a series of recent moves aimed at eliminating various archaic practices in the industry such as contracts and upgrade limitations. T-Mobile is also the only carrier other than Sprint to offer an unlimited data plan.
T-Mobile's struggle, however, lies in its infrastructure. Without the frequencies and footprint of Verizon and AT&T, T-Mobile's service is often shoddy in most rural and suburban areas of the United States. An influx of investment cash is seen as necessary to properly compete in next year's FCC spectrum auction where carriers can grab coveted low frequencies that make expanding into rural areas easier.
Iliad isn't the only one with eyes on T-Mobile. Dish Network has expressed interest in the carrier and Sprint spent most of 2014 stating its case for combining forces with T-Mobile. Sprint's $32 billion offer, however, ultimately petered out under criticism that further consolidation in the wireless industry would only end up hurting customers.
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