The thing about big-time wireless carriers with nationwide networks is that they’re always looking to become even bigger-time wireless carriers. Sprint, for example, has just announced that it will be acquiring Virgin Mobile USA for the not-so-small sum of $483 million. The deal is part of Sprint’s push to focus on the pre-paid wireless market in the US. The acquisition will have Sprint paying $5.50 per Virgin Mobile USA share.
Sprint plans to bring control of its own pre-paid Boost network under the control of Virgin Mobile USA’s current CEO Dan Schulman. The Boost pre-paid network and Virgin Mobile USA’s own pre-paid user-base are considered complementary, and will continue to operate in parallel. The deal will cancel out $248 million in outstanding debt on VM USA’s books, and will boost Sprint’s wireless ranks by some 5.2 million customers. That’s not enough to make the No. 3 US wireless carrier any more of a threat to AT&T or Verizon Wireless, but it sure does make Sprint a good deal bigger than T-Mobile USA.
Of course, as with all deals of this size and nature, Sprint will have to wait for feds and regulators to sign off on the deal. As it stands, this fall or early 2010 is looking like a good bet for regulatory approval of the acquisition.