Exclusive: Dish eyes 2014 bid for T-Mobile - sources

Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:08pm EST
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By Liana B. Baker and Soyoung Kim and Nicola Leske

(Reuters) - Dish (DISH.O: Quote) is considering making a bid for T-Mobile TMUS.N next year, according to people close to the matter, in what would be the satellite TV provider's second attempt in as many years at acquiring a major wireless operator and potentially setting the stage for a new bidding war with Softbank (9984.T: Quote).

Dish Network Corp, which lost out to Japanese telecoms giant Softbank in its attempt to buy Sprint Corp (S.N: Quote) several months ago, has since been sizing up T-Mobile US Inc as a takeover candidate and has talked to majority owner Deutsche Telekom AG (DTEGn.DE: Quote) about a potential deal, the three sources said.

Dish's Chairman Charlie Ergen is looking to expand the company he founded beyond the mature pay TV market and also wants to put to work the billions of dollars in wireless spectrum he's amassed in the past few years.

Sprint is also mulling a takeover of T-Mobile and could make a bid in the first half of 2014, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal last week.

While Dish has not yet decided whether to move forward with a bid, the company does not intend to sit on the sidelines if Sprint does bid for T-Mobile, two of the people said.

All the people asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak with the media.

Dish, T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom declined comment.

Any bidding war for T-Mobile would play out in a much more subtle, less public way than the bidding frenzy earlier this year for Sprint, as majority owner Deutsche Telekom can determine who it wants to sell the No.4 wireless operator to.   Continued...

Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen attends the Google's annual developers conference in San Francisco, California May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith