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MetroPCS will look to turn around struggling partner

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today approved Deutsche Telekom AG (ETR:DTE) bid to partially acquire MetroPCS Communications Inc. (PCS) and merge it with the T-Mobile USA brand.

The rather complex deal involves MetroPCS splitting its shares, then paying out $1.5B USD to shareholders (roughly half the market cap). This will dilute its stake by taking 74 percent of the resulting shares, while giving the combined company all of T-Mobile shares (meaning Deutsche Telekom will no longer directly own T-Mobile USA).

T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS will share network resources, but will continue to operate for now as separate brands.  Together they'll have $15B USD in unsecured debt notes, with Deutsche Telekom promising to pay another $5.5B USD in financing to the merged company.

In its statement the FCC writes:

With today’s approval, America’s mobile market continues to strengthen, moving toward robust competition and revitalized competitors. We are seeing billions more in network investment, while the courts have upheld key FCC decisions to accelerate broadband build-out, promote competition, and benefit consumers, including our broadband data roaming and pole attachment rules. Today’s action will benefit millions of American consumers and help the U.S maintain the global leadership in mobile it has regained in recent years.

Mobile broadband is a key engine of economic growth, with U.S. annual wireless capital investment up 40% over the last four years, the largest increase in the world, and few sectors having more potential to create jobs. In this fast-moving space, of course challenges remain, including the need to unleash even more spectrum for mobile broadband and continuing to promote competition and protect consumers. The Commission will stay focused on these vital goals.

T-Mobile plane
[Image Source: Juergen Lehle]

The deal is now finalized as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) indirectly approved it by refusing to challenge it during the statutory period, which expired last week.  Both the FCC and DOJ had sunk via lawsuits/complaints a previous bid by AT&T (T) to wholly acquire T-Mobile USA for $39B USD.

MetroPCS has been a promising success story in the U.S. market, but its new sidekick, T-Mobile USA, has struggled.  Bleeding cash and customers, T-Mobile is currently looking to become the last U.S. carrier to deploy LTE.  However, it is planning a rapid rollout -- it says it will cover 100 million Americans with LTE by "mid-2013".  It plans to cover 200 million Americans with LTE by the end of the year.

Sources: FCC, DOJ via MetroPCS





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