The future: Top outrageous wireless acquisitions that could happen next

A consortium of cable companies decides it must own wireless - so it purchases Sprint, bringing it all full circle  

Bloomberg recently reported that Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is considering buying more equity in Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) from Clearwire's other strategic investors. The report, citing unnamed sources, said Sprint is in talks with Clearwire's other investors, including Comcast, about an investment plan in which it would purchase the equity stakes and essentially take control of Clearwire. Other strategic investors of Clearwire include cable companies Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Interestingly, the report added that Cox Communications and Cablevision, two MSOs that do not resell Clearwire's service, are also part of the discussions with Sprint. But what if the cable companies decided to pool their resources and just take over both Sprint and Clearwire? The cable companies have failed at wireless plays before, including a joint venture with Sprint called Pivot. But buying Sprint would be the ultimate direct quad-play--cable players have made no secret of their desire to offer a credible wireless alternative to AT&T and Verizon, and a purchase of Sprint would cement that effort.

 

Huawei gets frustrated over lack of momentum in the United States and buys Alcatel Lucent

When Huawei lost out to Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ:ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Samsung for Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Network Vision project, it was a big letdown for the company. Huawei, which has been dogged by concerns about potential threats it might pose to national security, has been largely shut out of the U.S. infrastructure market. The company has gone so far as to invite the U.S. government to open an investigation into any security concerns it may have with the Chinese vendor. But if Huawei remains locked out of the U.S. market, the company may take matters into its own hands with a takeover Alcatel-Lucent. Though the transaction would likely invite tough scrutiny from regulators, Huawei certainly has the money and moxie to pull it off.

 

Verizon acquires U.S. Cellular. Why? Because it can.

After AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA, many speculated that Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) might try to acquire Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), speculation that Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead quickly dashed. With Sprint fighting tooth and nail against the AT&T/T-Mobile deal, it would seem impossible for another wireless merger to go through at this point. But after the dust settles on AT&T/T-Mobile, one way or another, Verizon might try and gobble up U.S. Cellular, which continues to lose subscribers. On paper, it makes perfect sense: U.S. Cellular is struggling, but like Verizon is a CDMA carrier moving to LTE. Verizon would likely get some of U.S. Cellular's spectrum and its presence in areas Verizon might not cover, and U.S Cellular customers would get more robust coverage and a broader device lineup. It would be a tough sell in the wake of AT&T/T-Mobile, but could be more plausible than most other carrier mergers.    

 

Microsoft buys Nokia's patent portfolio and device business

In early June, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) CEO Stephen Elop said there was no truth in rumors that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) plans to take over Nokia's key devices and services unit. It may not be in the cards right now, but could be down the line, especially if Nokia's Windows Phone devices do well in the marketplace. Following Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) proposed $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI), Microsoft is essentially the only platform provider that does not have a hardware component. For now, that is a key selling point of Windows Phone, especially for Android licensees. However, with around $53 billion in cash on hand at the end of the second quarter, Microsoft may decide it wants to splurge and bring Nokia in house and use its global reach to its advantage--and provide the kind of patent protection to Windows Phone licensees that Google promises to do for Android licensees through its acquisition of Motorola.

 

Amazon buys HTC for hardware expertise

According to a July report in the Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com will release a tablet product before October running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform. The report said that the device will sport a 9-inch display but will not have a camera, and will be designed by an Asian manufacturer. However, the report noted that Amazon is designing its own tablet model, which could be released next year. An Amazon purchase of a company like HTC would give Amazon a clear advantage in hardware design, and the engineering knowhow a software company like Amazon could need as it expands into hardware like ereaders and tablets. Amazon could benefit from the service and lifestyle enhancements HTC has invested in, including HTC's investment in Beats for mobile audio, as well as content delivery platform provider Saffron Digital and cloud gaming firm OnLive. 

The future: Top outrageous wireless acquisitions that could happen next
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