You’ve probably heard that France’s Iliad has made a $15 billion offer to buy 56.6% of T-Mobile USA, which for those who count, is a 17% premium over T-Mobile’s Wednesday closing price.
Germans refused the deal as they’re looking for a) more money; or b) potentially even a better thing – to merge with Sprint and form the real competitor to AT&T and Verizon Wireless. However, I tend to think that Iliad’s entrance to the U.S. market would be awesome, to say the least.
Few years ago, Iliad — which BTW is the fourth largest mobile operator in France — has pretty much revolutionized the French ISP market, being the first company to offer a “triple play” service in the country through its self-produced singular Freebox set-top box.
In the mobile arena, it has managed to go from zero to more than 8.5 million customers in just two years, while capturing 12% of the market. Their secret of success? Simple (commitment-free) and affordable packages. It’s that easy, and just the kind of thing that Americans could need. T-Mobile has started something like that with its Uncarrier initiative, and Iliad could add even more fresh blood to the mix, and eventually reach more customers.
As I’m writing this, it’s still unclear whether Iliad will up its game and an additional billion (or so) to the offer… or give up. If they’re looking for “pure” growth — in terms of subscriber numbers — they’re better off turning to emerging markets. However, they apparently want to serve data hungry users from the Western world. And that comes with a hefty price tag. We’ll see where this goes next…