Dish Said to Continue Slow-Moving Talks to Acquire T-Mobile

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Dish Network Corp. is continuing slow-moving talks to acquire wireless provider T-Mobile US Inc., said people with knowledge of the matter.

Dish Chief Executive Officer Charlie Ergen has spoken with T-Mobile’s controlling shareholder Deutsche Telekom AG about a deal for years, and renewed those discussions last September, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time. The talks haven’t advanced substantially since then, people said Thursday, asking not to be identified discussing private information.

Both sides are still far apart in terms of expectations for a deal price, and may not reach an agreement, one of the people said. Ergen has said he’s interested in T-Mobile, which has a market value of about $32 billion, describing it in February as a “company we think highly of.”

A purchase of T-Mobile would give Ergen a national wireless network over which it could deliver mobile video to challenge the pay-TV industry. For Deutsche Telekom, which has tried to sell T-Mobile to both AT&T Inc. and Sprint Corp. in the past, Dish offers a buyer that is unlikely to raise objections from regulators.

“Dish has long been in the market for a wireless carrier as a means to extend its product offering and put to use its extensive spectrum holdings,” Scott Dinsdale, a credit analyst at KDP Asset Management Inc. wrote in a note to clients Thursday.

AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile was blocked, and Sprint abandoned its effort before it even reached a deal -- amid mounting regulatory uncertainty. Ergen made his latest approach to Deutsche Telekom after the German company’s talks with Sprint broke down, people with knowledge of the matter said in September of last year. Deutsche Telekom also turned down a T-Mobile bid from French carrier Illiad SA.

Representatives for Dish, T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom declined to comment.

Mobile Video

Ergen has been looking for deals that will get him access to a national wireless network to use his stockpile of airwaves. Ergen, who initiated Sling TV, a Web-based video service, has said his aim is to use the network to deliver mobile video.

With T-Mobile’s airwaves and network, the combined company would have 198 megahertz of spectrum in 30 of the largest U.S. cities, according to John Butler and Matthew Kanterman, analysts with Bloomberg Intelligence.

These airwaves providing network capacity would put Dish in a favorable position, compared with other carriers, to deliver high-speed data and video to subscribers’ phones and tablets, Butler wrote.

T-Mobile and Dish shares rose Thursday after the Wall Street Journal reported the two sides were in agreement about what the combined company would look like.

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