Within a day of T-Mobile announcing a merger with MetroPCS Communications Inc (NYSE:PCS), desperate rival, Sprint Nextel, is evaluating the option to make a counter offer for MetroPCS, according to three people familiar with the matter. They said the deliberations are still in the early stage. Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) and MetroPCS had agreed earlier this year to form a combined new entity, but the Sprint board pulled back the stock and cash deal at the last minute.
The counterbid doesn’t come as a surprise. Just a few hours ago we discussed in detail how the T-Mobile/MetroPCS merger is a cause of worry for the company. Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) is already crushed under a huge pile of debt, and if the T-Mobile/MetroPCS merger happens, that will directly compete with Sprint. T-Mobile and MetroPCS will have enough resources to crush down Sprint.
Sprint, the fourth largest telecom operator in the U.S., has been hungry for an additional wireless spectrum that can provide high data speeds required by the latest smartphones. Before the merger of MetroPCS Communications Inc (NYSE:PCS) and T-Mobile was announced, Sprint was also in talks with Deutsche Telekom to merge with T-Mobile. However, Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, refused that offer, because it didn’t want to be the minority owner in the new entity.
The people familiar with the matter said that Deutsche Telekom AG (FRA:DTE) (PINK:DTEGY) (ETR:DTE) is already prepared for a counterbid from Sprint, and the German company will consider better terms for MetroPCS if necessary.
It will be a tough battle for Sprint to carry out the deal. The biggest obstacle is a break-up fee. John Legere, the head of Deutsche Telekom AG (FRA:DTE) (PINK:DTEGY) (ETR:DTE)’s American unit, said that if T-Mobile pulls out of the deal, it would have to pay MetroPCS $250 million in break-up fees. In case MetroPCS backs off, it is required to pay T-Mobile $150 million.
Another problem is that Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) shareholders aren’t enthusiastic about the counter offer for MetroPCS. Its stocks plunged more than 3 percent on Thursday, after the news of counter bid spread. Strangely, even MetroPCS Communications Inc (NYSE:PCS) shares didn’t show any gains that are accompanied with the speculation of a merger or acquisition. MetroPCS Communications Inc (NYSE:PCS) shares are down 2.6 percent, at $11.93.