Ergen ‘bidding $6bn to buy Sprint’s Boost MVNO’ to enable T-Mobile merger  

19 June 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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US satellite TV company Dish, run by Charlie Ergen (pictured), has emerged as the favourite to buy Sprint’s Boost Mobile sub-brand for $6 billion, along with wireless spectrum.

The price being quoted by Bloomberg in an unconfirmed report is $6 billion, twice the sum suggested at the end of May, when Amazon was said to be interested.

Sprint – controlled by Japanese group SoftBank – and T-Mobile US – owned by Deutsche Telekom – need to sell off part of their interests in order to win approval for their planned $26 billion merger.

US federal regulators have already approved the merger subject to conditions, though a number of US states are now taking legal action against the deal, which would create a powerful third mobile operator to compete with AT&T and Verizon.

Bloomberg quoted unnamed “people familiar with the matter” saying a deal could be announced “as soon as this week for assets including wireless spectrum and Sprint’s Boost Mobile brand”.

The agency said that the Department of Justice (DoJ) has indicated Dish, a competitor to AT&T’s DirecTV, as a potential buyer of Boost Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) based in California. Ergen founded EchoStar Communications as a pioneering satellite TV company 40 years ago and spun off the operating company as Dish in 2008, while the original EchoStar continued to make receiver boxes.

The DoJ wants a new fourth operator to be facilities-based rather than simply an MVNO – hence the deal is likely to include spectrum as well as the Boost Mobile brand and customers,

Intriguingly, two years ago Capacity reported that SoftBank was interested in buying Dish, partly to enable a move into the internet of things (IoT) industry. However that interest never developed into a bid.