French Telecom provider Iliad said today it was pulling the plug on its plans to acquire T-Mobile.
So, if not Iliad or Sprint, who else might be interested in the nation’s fourth-largest carrier?
In remarks made at the GeekWire Summit earlier this month, T-Mobile CEO John Legere provided a creative list of acquirers who — in theory — could be interested in making a big wireless play in the U.S.
“What about Dish? And, what about Google? Do you think they aren’t going into this business?” he asked. “What about Facebook? Amazon? Or Telmex, now that they are done having a love affair with AT&T?”
Legere’s intentions in naming the companies was intended to expand people’s imaginations, rather than hint at an active negotiations. But he added that it’s laughable to think that the big four (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile) will continue to dominate over the next five years.
“We will look back in five years and think that’s hilarious,” he said
While the hard-charging CEO was quick to name names, he was as just as clear in saying that the carrier wasn’t in a rush to find a buyer. “The difference with T-Mobile is we aren’t waiving a flag to come get us,” he said. “There’s a place for T-Mobile and we’ll continue to cause change. We are fascinating brand that’s accruing value.”
Refusing the Iliad offer today goes a long way in backing up that statement.
In July, Iliad offered to buy 56.6 percent of the company. Today, with the help of two private equity firms, Iliad increased the offer to 67 percent of the company at $36 a share. Following the refusal of the bid, T-Mobile’s shares were trading down 2 percent, or 56 cents, to $27.05 a share.
To be sure, a sale has been less urgent in recent months with some making the case for T-Mobile to hold off because the carrier has started to see some traction in the turnaround process. Some Legere’s favorite stats include saying that T-Mobile has achieved five straight quarters of subscriber growth, including its best-month ever in August, and that it expects to overtake Sprint by the end of the year.
“What’s happening is that T-Mobile is a brand and there is something strong and valuable going on,” Legere said.
As the company rebuilds its network, begins offering competitive pricing and adds more subscribers, it is no longer a fire sale, where all someone is looking for is some spectrum at a reasonable price.
Still, despite its efforts consolidation in the industry is likely, Legere said.
“Does T-Mobile make sense with various partners? Of course,” he said. “But right now we are extremely valuable, we are growing faster than anyone one else, and from a shareholder’s standpoint we are generating tremendous value and we will continue doing what we are doing.”
Watch the full interview with Legere here: