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Is Dish the best partner for T-Mobile? Some experts say yes, but Dish is lusting for Sprint

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Dish Network and T-Mobile may make a nice match, but the second-largest U.S. satellite TV carrier may have its business heart set on forging a relationship with Sprint.

While Sprint and SoftBank's offer to merge with T-Mobile proved too hard sell to U.S. regulators, the possibility kept a lot of potential suitors out of the conversation. Dish Network was one such player that stayed mum during the Sprint and T-Mobile talks.

If Dish, an outsider valued at approximately $26 billion, vies for a merger with T-Mobile, it would preserve the four-carrier grouping at the top of the telecom market and would likely face less scrutiny from regulators.

Neil Begley, an analyst at Moody's Investors Service and Macquarie Group, said Dish Network, if it were to formally propose a deal for T-Mobile, would likely offer a combination of cash and stock.

"The best potential for Dish to expand into the wireless business and develop a long-term solution to provide broadband to its video customers would be a controlling interest in T- Mobile," said Begley.

Dish declines to comment on the possibility of acquiring T-Mobile, though Dish Network Corporate Chairman Charlie Ergen hinted Dish Network and others have at least looked into buying the wireless carrier.

It's safe to assume that every wireless carrier with at least a long shot of merging with T-Mobile has approached the carrier with an offer, according to Ergen.

While Begley thinks Dish Network and T-Mobile would make a nice couple, the analyst concedes the package of cash and stock would like leave Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent company, thirsting for more. Meanwhile, Ergen seemed to be more interested in making a life partner of Sprint than partnering with T-Mobile.

"[While] you have to have a lot of respect for what T-Mobile's done...I think Sprint is capable of much, much more," said Ergen. "I like what I think Sprint's going to do, I think they've got some pretty good weapons."

Before Sprint and SoftBank's bid for T-Mobile was withdrawn, Ergen stated he thought better of bidding against the pair. Even further back, before SoftBank bought Sprint, Ergen and Dish Network launched a failed courtship of the wireless company.

As for T-Mobile's other suitors, the French carrier Iliad is still looking for love from T-Mobile. Braxton Carter, CFO of T-Mobile, said Iliad's offer for T-Mobile in July 2014 was "very flattering," but it lacked the required amount of value.

"I think rarely people come with their best bid to start," said Carter.

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