T-Mobile USA chief quiet on M&A speculation

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Philipp Humm says operator still working with German parent to strengthen the business. The chief executive of T-Mobile USA said he won’t comment on merger speculation and said the wireless carrier is focused on making its business stronger.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom AG is in talks with Metro PCS Communications Inc. about merging with T-Mobile. The two mobile providers would be combined in a separate, publicly traded company, controlled by the German giant, according to the report.
T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm said Thursday the company won’t comment on speculation and that it has no news to tell. He reiterated that Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile are working to strengthen the T-Mobile business and evolve T-Mobile to become a “self-funding platform.”
“That’s still the strategy we’re pursuing,” he said during a call discussing the company’s first-quarter earnings.
The speculation comes months after AT&T Inc.’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile failed due to antitrust concerns. Other possible tie-ups have also been mentioned in recent months, with many players in the U.S. mobile industry listed as possible partners. The carriers say they’re facing a shortage of wireless airways, or spectrum, something that’s causing them to seek out deals with other companies.
Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, disclosed agreements in December to buy rights to the spectrum of four of the nation’s cable providers for a total of about $3.9 billion. T-Mobile and MetroPCS have pushed regulators to block Verizon’s plan.
Verizon last month said it would conduct an open sale process for all of its 700 megahertz A and B spectrum licenses as it looks to deploy its 4G LTE network on upper C spectrum licenses.
Humm said Thursday the airwaves being sold by Verizon Wireless aren’t really interesting to T-Mobile because of some issues the spectrum faces, such as interference with certain TV stations.
“It doesn’t address the issue, which is that with cable, Verizon will have a lot of very, very good [advanced wireless services] spectrum,” Humm said.”There is a need for divestitures from that point of view on spectrum.”