Iliad is still pursuing an acquisition of T-Mobile US and is in talks with private equity funds and companies about possible ways of improving its bid for the Deutsche Telekom-owned operator.
According to Reuters, Iliad CFO Thomas Reynaud said that these companies contacted the French company at the beginning of August and that talks are continuing, although he was unable to provide any further information on how long the process might take, or whether Iliad would raise its offer.
It appears that the French group has not been deterred by Deutsche Telekom’s rejection of its initial offer of $33 a share, or $15 billion for a 56.6% stake. Indeed, in the presentation of its first-half results for 2014, the company noted that there was a “unique opportunity” for a maverick player to disrupt the U.S. market.
It’s not entirely certain how much the German incumbent would be prepared to accept, although Bloomberg cited unnamed sources as saying that the company would be open to bids of between $35 and $40 per share. As things stand, Iliad’s offer remains at $33 per share.
Iliad has certainly made its mark as a “maverick” operator on the French market. The company, owned by billionaire entrepreneur Xavier Niel, launched low-priced mobile bundles under Free Mobile in January 2012, and sparked a price war that continues to have repercussions for rivals Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom.
In the first half of 2014, Iliad said revenue increased by 10% to over €2 billion, although costs caused net profits to decline slightly by 1.3% to €139.9 million compared to the previous year. The company gained 1 million mobile subscribers in the first six months, taking its total mobile subscriber base to over 9 million with a market share of over 13%.
Iliad also said its 3G network would cover 75% of the French population by the end of 2014. LTE coverage would then be at around 50% of the population.