What Next in T-Mobile US Effort to Gain Scale?

Deutsche Telekom reportedly does not consider Illiad’s bid to buy a majority stake in T-Mobile US to be a reasonable alternative to a purchase by Sprint. What happens next is key.

Illiad is considered a long shot bidder, even if T-Mobile US parent Deutsche Telekom benefits from a bidding war for T-Mobile US.

If you assume Illiad will have to find some other bid package that does rise to the level of serious competition for T-Mobile US, then a financially strong partner would have to be enticed to bid with Illiad.

It probably would not be Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate on the lookout for expansion opportunities. Slim has said the U.S. market requires too much capital, and Slim's friendship with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson likely is an issue as well.

It won’t be Comcast, which is otherwise occupied by its effort to buy Time Warner Cable. Having recently exited the U.S market, Vodafone, which as the cash, likely does not have the interest.

Deutsche Telekom wants to exit the U.S. market as well, and Orange would not likely want to partner with its fiercest rival in the French market.

Some other U.S. firms likely have the resources, but not the immediate appetite. It is easy to toss around the names of firms such as Google, Microsoft or Apple, all of whom have handset and device interests in the U.S market,

The problem is constructing a value proposition that makes sense. All of those firms arleady could buy wholesale access if they wanted to run branded mobile Internet access operations of some sort. They wouldn’t need to own stakes in one of the underlying providers to achieve that goal.

Still, with T-Mobile US in play, some other combination of bidders could emerge. The investment bankers would like that. So would Deutsche Telekom.
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