Charter Communications removed themselves from the buyout table, according to a Reuters report from last night. In an emailed statement, a Charter spokesperson said they have “no interest in acquiring Sprint.” There was no comment about whether Charter would consider “a bid from SoftBank and at what price”.
If you’re having trouble keeping the wireless carrier relationship matrix straight, you’re not alone. Comcast/Charter have reseller agreements already existing with Verizon. But according to multiple sources, a Sprint deal could have more favorable terms and allow increased high-band spectrum access, which would facilitate 5G service introduction sooner.
Multiple reports indicate that a Sprint and T-Mobile merger is still a possibility. In fact, at a recent Boston telecom conference, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and Braxton Carter, CFO of T-Mobile U.S. have acknowledged that analysts may be “low balling” Sprint’s merger numbers. Both men indicated that they believe a Sprint/T-Mobile merger would present the best case scenario and could result in a deal over $30 billion.
In mid July when the word got out that billionaire Warren Buffett and Liberty Media Corp’s John Malone met with SoftBank’s CEO, Masayoshi Son, speculation raged as to whether a much needed cash influx was in the works for beleaguered, debt-ridden Sprint.
The Market responded about the news with Sprint’s stock immediately spiking up by 4.3% on July 14.
At the time, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal both reported possible investment amounts ranging from $10 billion to $20 billion USD. Sources said that Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure was also involved in the negotiations.
Malone’s Liberty is Charter Communications largest investor, and according to the WSJ, both Charter and Comcast “have been in exclusive talks with Sprint about buying a stake in the wireless carrier or negotiating a favorable wholesale agreement that would allow them to resell wireless service under their own cable brands.”
Up till July 30, Comcast and Charter (the country’s two largest cable operators) had wanted first dibs in any Sprint buying discussions, as Sprint is number one in terms of spectrum assets (they are fourth largest in terms of subscribers).
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