Finding new buyer for TMo USA unlikely says CEO
Deutsche Telekom chief looking instead for partnership or merger, but US unit head believes it is viable on its own
Published: 25 May, 2012
Deutsche Telekom's CEO Rene Obermann admitted this week that finding another outright buyer for its T-Mobile USA unit was unlikely, after the failure of the proposed AT&T takeover last year. However, he said a merger or joint venture was still possible.
Obermann told a shareholder meeting in Germany: "We do not exclude any option for the T-Mobile unit in the US, also not a merger. A complete sale is unlikely. You understand that I can't say more in public on T- Mobile USA." Sources in the US indicate that a merger with regional player MetroPCS is one option on the table, though DT could also hold out for an IPO at a later stage.
European DT watchers tend to believe the US unit must get a partner or joint venture to be viable, while over the Atlantic, the management and some of Wall Street have greater confidence in its potential to remain independent. "We don't see any value creation by T-Mobile USA if it stays as a standalone company," Alexandre Iatrides, an analyst at Oddo & Cie in Paris, told Bloomberg, echoing the thoughts of many. He is interested in a deal of some kind with MetroPCS or Sprint.
But the US subsidiary's CEO Philipp Humm said in a recent interview that the cellco did not need an alliance with another operator and could grow on its own. "We are pretty sizable company; we are profitable and we are on the right path to growth," he told the Seattle Times. "That's really our main point of view, to strengthen our own business and come back to growth. Beyond that we will always look at opportunities to gain additional scale or additional spectrum or strengthen capital structure in the US market. Those are always things we will be looking into."