(Adds Ergen comments on spectrum, analyst comment; updates
By Liana B. Baker and Lisa Richwine
NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES Aug 6 Dish Network Corp
Chairman Charlie Ergen said it makes sense for the
satellite operator to consider making a bid for T-Mobile US Inc
now that Sprint is out of the picture.
"Certainly to the extent that Sprint either dropped out or
wasn't interested or the government wouldn't allow it ... then
T-Mobile is something that we would have an interest in," Ergen
said on Wednesday on a conference call after Dish reported
Investors have been watching for any signs of what Ergen
plans to do with the spectrum the company has spent billions
stockpiling over the past few years.
Possible plans include a partnership with another wireless
player or building or buying a wireless network. While the
company's core pay TV business has stalled, Dish shares have
risen more than 40 percent to $63.81 over the past 12 months
mainly on investors' high hopes for the value of the company's
Late Tuesday, Sprint Corp dropped its planned bid to acquire
T-Mobile U.S. Inc, the No. 4 U.S. carrier, after regulatory
hurdles proved too steep, people familiar with the matter told
Ergen said he was not surprised that Sprint walked away from
T-Mobile and called it a "smart move," considering the public
resistance from regulators.
"Sometimes the best deals you do are the ones you walk away
from, and it takes a lot of guts to do it," he said.
Ergen said Sprint's abandoned plans for T-Mobile likely
increase the options for his company, but executives have not
yet discussed their plans. Still, the "announcement last night
probably increased some optionality," he said.
Dish may face some competition to win T-Mobile from French
telecom company Iliad, which threw its hat into the
ring with a $15 billion offer last week, T-Mobile's parent
company, Deutsche Telekom, has shown no interest in
engaging with Iliad so far.
Many investors have believed that Verizon Communications Inc
would step in and buy all of Dish or all of its spectrum,
said Craig Moffett, senior analyst at MoffettNathanson.
"Now, investors will have to get comfortable with a wider
array of possible outcomes," he wrote in a research note.
Ergen reiterated that it was possible Dish would sell its
spectrum but that was not his preferred option.
"Unless we can build a business that's more valuable than
the core value, we're a seller," he said. "But if we can build a
business long term that's actually more valuable than the core
value, then we're going to go do that."
"We're long-term players," he added. "If you want somebody
to flip some spectrum, make a quick buck, go buy somebody else."
Dish shares rose 1.6 percent, or 99 cents, to $63.14 in
late-afternoon trading on Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Liana B. Baker; Editing by Lisa
Von Ahn, Richard Chang and Leslie Adler)