We may soon see a bidding war for T-Mobile. French telecom company Iliad has put in a $15 billion, all-cash bid for the company that would give it a controlling stake of 56.6 percent. The news throws a huge wrench into the months-long narrative that Sprint is preparing to buy its smaller competitor. T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom and Sprint have already reached a tentative agreement that would ultimately combine the third and fourth place US carriers, according to previous reports. But Iliad gives T-Mobile another path in taking the fight to its rivals. The Wall Street Journal first reported Iliad’s interest in T-Mobile on Thursday afternoon.
French upstart telecommunications company Iliad SA has made an offer for T-Mobile US Inc., in a bold bid to counter by Sprint Corp. for the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. Iliad, in a news release, said it offered $15 billion in cash for 56.6% of T-Mobile US at $33 a share. Iliad added that the remaining 43.4% of T-Mobile US would be worth $40.50 a share, based on expected cost savings, giving the deal an overall per-share value of $36.20, or 17% higher than T-Mobile’s closing price Wednesday. “The U.S. mobile market is large and attractive,” Iliad said in a statement. “T-Mobile US has successfully established a disruptive position, which in many ways, is similar to the one Iliad has built in France.” T-Mobile’s response was not immediately available. T-Mobile US had a market value of $24.8 billion. Iliad’s was €12 billion ($16 billion). Iliad said the offer has the support of Mr. Xavier Niel, the company’s founder and majority shareholder, as well as the company’s board. Iliad said the cash portion would be financed via a combination of debt and equity. Iliad added that it has the support of leading international banks for the acquisition debt; meanwhile, the equity portion would be about €2 billion, and Mr. Niel would participate in the capital increase.