T-Mobile USA CEO: ready for any outcome of MetroPCS process

NEW YORK, March 26 Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:56pm EDT

NEW YORK, March 26 (Reuters) - John Legere, the chief executive T-Mobile USA, said he expects shareholders to approve the company's plan to merge with MetroPCS Communications Inc .

But if the deal falls through, the executive said, he would be prepared.

Legere has been meeting with MetroPCS shareholders ahead of an April 12 vote on the deal, which two activist investors are trying to block. T-Mobile USA is a unit of Deutsche Telekom , which would own 74 percent of the combined company.

While some investors told the executive that they are not sure if they will vote for the deal, Legere said he has yet to meet shareholders who had definitely decided to vote no. He declined to say if Deutsche Telekom might sweeten its offer.

"The deal will get done," Legere told Reuters in an interview after a press event where he unveiled T-Mobile's plans to start selling iPhone on April 12, the same day as the vote.

While Deutsche Telekom said earlier this week that the current deal was the best solution for both companies, some analysts said that the German company might end up changing the terms if shareholders appeared likely to reject the merger.

The result will likely be affected by recommendations for or against the deal by proxy advisory firms such as Glass Lewis and ISS, which are both expected to issue advisories this week.

But Legere said that if the vote does not work out as planned, T-Mobile would still be in a good position.

For example, he said that new service offerings and devices that T-Mobile unveiled this week would help it to compete against smaller rivals MetroPCS and Leap Wireless International .

"How hard would it be for me to go into MetroPCS and Leap's markets right now to compete," the executive said. "While they're waiting for somebody to come in and buy them, we're going to compete."

Legere said some shareholders he spoke to had speculated that a bigger rival like Sprint Nextel, No. 3 U.S. mobile operator, might offer MetroPCS a better deal than Deutsche Telekom has.

But if the MetroPCS deal collapses, Legere argued, T-Mobile would be a better acquisition target, because it has a much bigger wireless network and more subscribers than MetroPCS.

"If you're waiting for a white knight to come in," he said, "Why would you buy them and not us?"

Some analysts have questioned whether Sprint and T-Mobile would ever be allowed to merge after U.S. regulators blocked an effort by AT&T Inc, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service provider, to buy T-Mobile in 2011.

But Legere said that regulators may eventually feel more comfortable about a merger that forms a stronger No. 3 U.S. mobile provider.

"The ability to create a sustainable No. 3 is going to happen," he said. "In 12 to 24 months the environment will be different around Washington's opinion of consolidation."