Small French Company Challenges Telecom Titans For T-Mobile

Iliad, a small French telecom company, is offering to pay $15 billion for a majority stake in T-Mobile, the U.S.'s smallest national wireless phone company. But it faces competing offers from much larger rivals.

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T-Mobile has a new suitor. A French discount wireless carrier called Iliad has expressed interest in buying the smallest national wireless carrier in the U.S. Iliad is offering to pay 15 billion in cash for a majority stake in T-Mobile. But there are other potential offers that may enter this competition. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: In T-Mobile, Iliad says it sees a kind of kindred spirit. T-Mobile competes on price with its much larger rivals. Iliad has used a similar strategy in the French market, and in a press release, the company called the U.S. mobile market large and attractive. But T-Mobile, which is currently majority owned by Deutsche Telekom, is also being courted by Sprint.

If that deal works out, it would combine the country's third and fourth largest carriers. But analysts say such a deal could face trouble with antitrust authorities. Iliad is making that a selling point for its own deal since it currently has no presence in the U.S. Sprint declined to comment on the Iliad offer. And in an earnings conference call yesterday, T-Mobile CEO John Legere simply said the company has multiple options to consider and that it will consider all of them. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.

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