T-Mobile is the wireless telecoms arm of German giant Deutsche Telekom. It established a broad international presence from 1999 onwards, acquiring several other significant wireless businesses, including One2One in the UK and Voicestream and PowerTel in the US. Continuing growth had made T-Mobile the biggest revenue centre within Deutsche Telekom by the end of 2005. More recently though it has begun to reduce its exposure in further flung countries - where it had remained one of the smaller players - in order to concentrate on more profitable continental European markets closer to home. The first such step was an agreement to merge T-Mobile's operations in the UK with those of rival Orange to create EE, now the local market leader by customers. Still more dramatic was a deal to exit the US in 2011, with the outright sale of the local T-Mobile to AT&T. However that plan was blocked by the US Justice Department and FCC on competition grounds. Instead T-Mobile USA merged in 2013 with smaller rival MetroPCS, creating a locally quoted business now only part-owned by Deutsche Telekom.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Jun 2016: T-Mobile USA launched another typically bold marketing stunt this week, offering all its 12m pay-monthly subscribers one free stock unit - currently worth around $43 - with an option to receive up to another 100 shares a year if they can persuade their friends to sign up as well. Subscribers not interested in owning a piece of the company can claim free pizza, a frozen dessert from Wendy's and a movie rental. CEO John Legere told his Twitter followers, "The carriers want to screw you. We want to take you to dinner and a movie. But I'm not done... I'm turning T-Mobile customers into T-Mobile owners."
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th June 2015: The Wall Street Journal breaks the news this morning that US satellite broadcaster Dish Network is in advanced talks to merge with T-Mobile USA, the part-public subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. Such a deal could at last offer Telekom the prospect of a clean exit from the American market. For Dish too it would offer a brighter future, as well as a solid response to rival DirecTV's purchase by AT&T. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen has been seeking a path into the mobile sector for years. He owns substantial amounts of wireless spectrum but nothing at present to use it for. Under the structure currently being discussed, Ergen would remain chairman of the combined entity, with T-Mobile's John Legere as CEO. Financially, it would be a merger of equals, more or less, with Dish currently valued at $33bn and T-Mobile USA at $31bn. [Later note: No deal materialised].
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Jan 2015: Google is to launch its own wireless phone service in the US, according to the WSJ, and has finalised MVNO agreements with the two smallest national carriers, Sprint and T-Mobile to supply call capacity. It's unclear as yet whether the proposed service will be fully national or limited to major cities, but the deal will allow Google to offer a branded wireless service to customers without the burden of building and maintaining its own network. MVNO arrangements are widespread in Europe; less so in the US. TracFone, a unit of Mexican group America Movil, offers one such a similar "virtual" network, as did Virgin Mobile until it was acquired outright by Sprint.
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Nov 2014: There were clear signs on the horizon of further consolidation among European telecoms groups. At an investor conference, the CEO of French mobile group Orange confirmed the likelihood of some form of deal over its UK-based joint venture with Deutsche Telekom, which operates as EE, and is the local market leader. "The 50/50 situation isn't a long-term scheme," said Stephane Ricard. "In the future - not the near future - we will have to think with the Germans about the evolution of EE." Considerable further investment is already required to build EE's presence in broadband and streamed TV services. The next step could be a full buyout by one or other partner, an IPO, or a sale to private equity. However, "don't expect anything spectacular in the short term," he warned. It was subsequently revealed that UK telecoms group BT had opened talks with both O2 and EE over the acquisition of one or other operator.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Oct 2014: French telecoms group Iliad, owner of the Free Mobile service, abandoned its bold plan to take control of T-Mobile USA, after a higher offer was turned down by the latter's controlling shareholder Deutsche Telekom. Iliad said it was prepared to acquire Deutsche Telekom's entire 67% holding at $33 per share, rather than the 57% it had earmarked previously. That proposal was also declined, and at the same time Illiad's own share price has slumped, reducing its ability to raise the necessary funds to complete a deal. The withdrawal pleased French investors, who expect Iliad to focus its attentions back on the domestic market, possibly with a new bid for #3 operator Bouygues.
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