Monday, 20 November 2017

(When) will they or won't they? US telco merger keeps us guessing

By Mary Lennighan, Total Telecom
Friday 20 October 17

Sprint and T-Mobile US pucker up, but industry watchers are still waiting for the kiss

In the past month or so the rumoured tie-up between Sprint and T-Mobile US has switched from a 'will they, won't they?' story to more of a 'when will they?' situation. Or to put it another way, 'just kiss her already!' The industry is treating the much-talked-about mobile marriage as an open secret. The myriad unnamed sources quoted almost daily by the newswires keep divulging private information on the negotiations…

In the past month or so the rumoured tie-up between Sprint and T-Mobile US has switched from a 'will they, won't they?' story to more of a 'when will they?' situation.

Or to put it another way, 'just kiss her already!'

The industry is treating the much-talked-about mobile marriage as an open secret. The myriad unnamed sources quoted almost daily by the newswires keep divulging private information on the negotiations, always with the caveat that there is no certainty a deal will emerge, but nonetheless, we are all working on the assumption that an announcement is imminent.

The latest information comes from Bloomberg, which on Thursday revealed that the telcos may now wait until a number of weeks after the publication of their quarterly results to announce an all-stock merger.

The news outlet's sources said that while Sprint and T-Mo have been working to complete a deal in times for their next results announcements, they will be unlikely to finalise the details by the end of the month and will instead push an announcement back into mid or even late-November.

Bloomberg added that a delay in reporting results is also possible, although such a move would surely serve as a tacit admission that something is going on between the pair of them.

Neither operator has yet revealed when it will post Q3 numbers (in T-Mobile's case; Sprint will present its fiscal Q2s), which is in itself unusual...as far as Sprint in concerned, at least.

T-Mobile has given just a few days' notice of its Q3 results for the past few years. A quick trawl through its investor information suggests we could expect it to set the date any time now with a view to publishing its numbers towards the back end of next week.

Sprint, however, usually provides more warning. Its Q2 numbers last year came on 25 October with more than a month's notice, and the year before it set the date in mid-October for early November publication.

As we pointed out a couple of weeks ago Sprint parent Softbank will present its fiscal Q2 numbers on 6 November, while T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom will share its third-quarter figures on 9 November. The U.S. mobile subsidiaries usually report a few days before their parents.

So, there is still time for the telcos to squeeze in a quick merger before – or alongside – their results. Should they fail to do so, analysts and press on the results calls will doubtless find themselves playing the 'ask the same question a dozen different ways' game.

Friday Review 20 October 2017

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