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France's Iliad makes US$15 billion bid to take control of T-Mobile US

Published on Aug 1, 2014 2:45 AM

PARIS/NEW YORK (Reuters) - French telecoms company Iliad has made a surprise offer for T-Mobile US, setting up a potential bidding war with rival suitor Sprint Corp, the U.S. mobile firm now controlled by Japan's Softbank.

Iliad, which has shaken up the French mobile and broadband market in the past decade with its cheap, pared-down subscriber plans, has bid US$15 billion in cash for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile US at $33 per share. It said it valued the rest of T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier and 66.67 percent-owned by Deutsche Telekom, at US$40.50 per share, and expects US$10 billion of cost savings from the deal.

The move is the latest in founder Xavier Niel's audacious empire building in telecoms which now includes businesses in Israel, Monaco and France and in many ways makes him a similar figure to Masayoshi Son, the head of Softbank and now his rival suitor for T-Mobile US.

Both have operated their companies as challengers who cut prices and take on larger rivals with bigger resources. A person close to Iliad said that Mr Niel believed Iliad had a strong card to play because its bid would not face the antitrust scrutiny that confronts Sprint in trying to merge the third and fourth-biggest U.S. mobile network operators.

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