Liberty Global owner hints at T-Mobile takeover
12 January 2017 | James Pearce
Liberty Global chairman John Malone has opened the door to the possibility of a consortium of cable operators buying US mobile operator T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom.
Malone suggested the US’s three largest cable companies – Comcast, Charter (which is part-owned by Malone) and Cox Communications – could enter the wireless business by acquiring T-Mobile.
Speaking at a Lions Gate investor event, Malone claimed the presidency of Donald Trump could lead to more consolidation across the industry due to less-restrictive regulatory oversight, according to a Bloomberg report.
The US billionaire claimed moves from telcos such as AT&T and Verizon into the TV space could prompt the major cable providers to respond by making a push into mobile services.
“Maybe the three major cable companies get together and buy T-Mobile,” Malone said. “One could contemplate in a Trump administration Comcast and Charter could merge,” he said, referring to the No. 1 and No. 2 cable TV providers.
Malone’s Liberty Global already owns a number of mobile operations, including licensing the Virgin brand in the UK and Ireland, and a recently-launched joint-venture with Vodafone in the Netherlands.
T-Mobile has been linked to a sale for a number of years, with SoftBank-owned Sprint rumoured to be in talks about a merger in 2014.
The Japanese company said it had abandoned the idea of a takeover in August of that year, while Xavier Neal was also linked with a potential takeover.
CEO John Legere was recently disparaging of cable companies looking to enter the mobile space through MVNO agreements. The outspoken chief executive said on 5 January that cable companies planning to enter into network-sharing agreements with carriers would be “in full retreat” by the end of the year.
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