Several players apart from Amazon may be lining up bids for Boost, assuming the Sprint/TMO merger proceeds with the sale of the prepaid unit as a condition. Analysts expect the price to be at least $3bn, possibly as high as $4bn depending on the levels of interest.
According to Reuters, prepaid company Q Link Wireless is teaming up with private equity backers to place a bid; while Stephen Stokols, founder of disruptive WiFi-first operator FreedomPop, is said to be separately advising another private equity group in preparing a bid for Boost. Also in the frame, apparently, is Peter Adderton, who actually founded Boost Mobile, then sold it in 2004 to Nextel, which was in turn acquired by Sprint.
And it is possible that a cable or pay-TV operator, looking for a well-known consumer brand to accelerate a mobile launch, could also be interested.
The most interesting, apart from AWS, could be Dish Network, which has in the past wanted to acquire Sprint and/or make a network infrastructure deal with TMO.
Craig Moffett of Moffett Nathanson wrote in an investor note: “A spectrum sharing deal whereby the combined Sprint/T-Mobile would host Dish Network’s spectrum in return for the rights to use some of the capacity created with Dish’s spectrum would seem a logical starting point, as it would satisfy important needs for all involved … Dish might or might not want Boost as part of the deal; there’s a reasonably good low end demographic fit between Boost and Dish’s satellite subscriber base, and the idea of eventually putting Boost MVNO subscribers onto Dish’s own wireless network would make Boost much more financially interesting for Dish Network than for other potential bidders who wouldn’t have the same opportunity.”
He added: “But even if Dish didn’t want Boost, it appears that there are other potential buyers out there, and there is no reason to assume that the FCC’s requirement to divest Boost and the DOJ’s reported requirement to create a fourth player are directly connected. For T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom, creating an opening for Dish as a fourth competitor would be far less threatening, one would think, than would enabling Amazon.”