Liberty Global boss hints at T-Mobile takeover
John Malone claims three biggest cable operators could partner to buy US arm of Deutsche Telekom
Liberty Global chairman John Malone has opened the door to the possibility of a consortium of cable operators buying US mobile operator T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom.
Malone suggested the US’s three largest cable companies – Comcast, Charter (which is part-owned by Malone) and Cox Communications – could enter the wireless business by acquiring T-Mobile.
Speaking at a Lions Gate investor event, Malone claimed the presidency of Donald Trump could lead to more consolidation across the industry due to less-restrictive regulatory oversight, according to a Bloomberg report.
The US billionaire claimed moves from telcos such as AT&T and Verizon into the TV space could prompt the major cable providers to respond by making a push into mobile services.
“Maybe the three major cable companies get together and buy T-Mobile,” Malone said. “One could contemplate in a Trump administration Comcast and Charter could merge,” he said, referring to the No. 1 and No. 2 cable TV providers.
Malone’s Liberty Global already owns a number of mobile operations, including licensing the Virgin brand in the UK and Ireland, and a recently-launched joint-venture with Vodafone in the Netherlands.
T-Mobile has been linked to a sale for a number of years, with SoftBank-owned Sprint rumoured to be in talks about a merger in 2014.
The Japanese company said it had abandoned the idea of a takeover in August of that year, while Xavier Neal was also linked with a potential takeover.
CEO John Legere was recently disparaging of cable companies looking to enter the mobile space through MVNO agreements. The outspoken chief executive said on 5 January that cable companies planning to enter into network-sharing agreements with carriers would be “in full retreat” by the end of the year.