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French Carrier Iliad Makes Surprise Bid for T-Mobile U.S.

Bidding war! French telecommunications company Iliad confirms it made a $15 billion cash offer to acquire T-Mo.

French telecom Iliad has offered to buy T-Mobile U.S., seeking to exploit a vulnerability in deal talks between the fourth-largest U.S. carrier and Sprint.

In a bid that appeared to materialize out of nowhere, the upstart wireless carrier, which plays a similar underdog role in its French home market, said it would likely find a friendlier U.S. regulatory review than Sprint.

“This transaction should not raise any antitrust issue in light of the competition rules given that Iliad is not present in the United States,” Iliad said in a statement posted on its website.

Iliad said it has offered to pay $15 billion cash offer to acquire a majority 56.6 percent stake in T-Mobile U.S. It said its offer values the remaining 43.4 percent of T-Mobile at $40.50 a share, based on expected cost savings of about $10 billion. That would value the company at $36.20 a share — $17 higher than T-Mobile’s closing price Wednesday.

Based on the $36.20 per share and 807 million outstanding shares of T-Mobile U.S. as on July 28, the deal would value T-Mobile U.S. at an approximate $29.2 billion.

T-Mobile shares rose more than 7 percent to $33.21 in trading on Thursday after the Wall Street Journal reported the news.

T-Mobile U.S. confirmed that it has received a proposal from Iliad, and declined to say more. Sprint did not respond to requests seeking comment.

Iliad’s offer could disrupt merger talks between T-Mobile and Sprint that have been going on for months. Any deal combining the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers would face high hurdles in the U.S., where regulators are likely to question how reducing the number of players can preserve competition.

Like T-Mobile in the U.S., Iliad is a challenger in a market where Orange is the dominant mobile carrier.

During T-Mobile’s June quarter earnings call, Chief Executive John Legere said there were many possibilities for the carrier beyond the long rumored Sprint deal, noting there are lots of big players interested in wireless.

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