T-Mobile CEO may be hinting a merger is coming their way

For quite some time, T-Mobile has been rumored for a merger or buyout. AT&T, Sprint, Dish, Iliad — you name them, T-Mobile has probably been rumored or in talks for a merger or acquisition. While T-Mobile CEO John Legere likes to slap away all talk of T-Mobile falling under the auspice of another company — and has even said he's tired of talking mergers and acquisitions — he's now making overtures that's it's inevitable, much like his boss has. In fact, Legere thinks it's precisely how the industry will shake out over time.

Speaking at T-Mobile's earnings call, Legere said "In five years, we will think it comical that we thought about the industry structure as the four major wireless carriers". That may strike you as glib coming from a guy bent on being at the top of that stodgy four-carriers heap, but Legere isn't talking consolidation.

He's thinking synergy outside this 'four standalone carriers' scheme the FCC is bent on. Legere says more interesting partnerships exist with "adjacent industries".

Let's unpack that one quickly. Legere is at the same time admitting T-Mobile is undoubtedly low-hanging fruit for a merger or acquisition (which he's tired of discussing, remember), but also saying it's not going to happen within the industry his company exists in.

The easy assumption to make is that Legere is laying the groundwork for a merger/acquisition/partnership with Dish, who have been actively looking to get into wireless for some time. The cable company recently made massive (and suspect) spectrum pick-ups via the most recent FCC auction where T-Mobile was largely inactive.

It's worth noting that auction was for spectrum best suited for data, a realm T-Mobile is already outperforming the competition in.

The next FCC auction, which will involve low-band spectrum, is where T-Mobile is already laying the groundwork for being more active, calling on the FCC to make it fair for everyone. That spectrum will spread T-Mobile's signal much further, and help to put them on the same coverage field as Verizon and AT&T.

And would make them more attractive for 'adjacent industry' partners who don't have low-band spectrum.

Is Legere saying T-Mobile is preparing to be snapped up, though? According to him, there is "a far more broad set of potential partnerships, integrations, and mergers that the United States could be looking at. And in that case, I think you will see consolidation of a much broader set".

Legere also preempted his commentary by saying consolidation is "not a matter of if, it's when and how. And now I'm going to add 'and who'."

So who's it gonna be, John?

Source: T-Mobile

Via: The Verge