Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Hoettges said the company will consider any partnership for T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) that can improve profitability at the carrier, comments that again open the door to potential M&A.
Hoettges said at the company's annual shareholders meeting that T-Mobile, which Deutsche Telekom still has a 66 percent stake in, was in much better shape than two years ago when it started its "uncarrier" initiative.
"But it is our duty to go on improving the return on T-Mobile US," he said, according to Reuters. "If we find a partner who will help us to do so, we will obviously consider it."
Last summer DT and Sprint (NYSE: S) parent SoftBank abandoned plans to try and merge the two carriers amid signals of opposition from U.S. regulators. Then, in the fall of 2014, French telecom and Internet company Iliad made an ill-fated bid for a majority stake in T-Mobile.
Hoettges told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting that DT is under no pressure to sell T-Mobile, reiterating what he has said in the past. "Customers are literally flocking to us," he said.
T-Mobile added 8.3 million total customers in 2014, leading the industry, including 4.9 million branded postpaid customers. T-Mobile expects to add between 3 million and 3.5 million postpaid customers in 2015.
Lately T-Mobile executives have been more open about the possibility of working with another company, and not even necessarily another wireless carrier. For example, last week at an investor conference T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter said that T-Mobile would seriously evaluate any deal that could benefit T-Mobile shareholders. "We have a fiduciary responsibility to evaluate any strategic opportunity, and if it increases shareholder value in excess of what we see on a standalone basis, it would be something we would very much be inclined to do," he said.
During T-Mobile's first-quarter earnings conference call at the end of April, T-Mobile CEO John Legere voiced interest in partnerships with companies like Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) or cable companies. Legere said that "as content and entertainment and social are moving to the Internet and the Internet is moving mobile, these industries, the adjacent industries are in the same game that we're in." He added: "So I think you need to think about the cable industry and players like us as not competitors but potential partners and alternatives for each other in the future."
Indeed, T-Mobile executives have made no secret over the last few months of their interest in partnering with Dish.
- see this Reuters article
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