Dish’s Ergen Says T-Mobile Takeover Still ‘On the Table’

Dish Network Corp. Chairman Charlie Ergen, who made a failed attempt to acquire Sprint Corp. earlier this year, said buying Sprint’s smaller rival T-Mobile US Inc. is still “on the table.”

Dish also could forge a partnership with a wireless carrier, Ergen said today on a conference call. Dish needs a physical network to use its stockpile of airwaves to transmit mobile video services throughout the U.S. -- a strategy the company is intent on pursuing, he said.

“I don’t ever rule out anything,” said Ergen, 60. “I think acquiring a company, selling our company, merging, partnering -- those are all on the table.”

Dish also is attempting to add to its wireless spectrum holdings. The Englewood, Colorado-based satellite-TV provider has made an offer to buy LightSquared Inc.’s airwaves out of bankruptcy for $2.2 billion and plans to bid for more spectrum in a government auction of the so-called H-Block in January 2014 for at least $1.56 billion.

Dish rose 6 percent to $50.35 at the close in New York, for the stock’s largest one-day gain since Dec. 20, 2011. T-Mobile, which had dropped as much as 5.3 percent, pared its losses after Ergen’s remarks to close down 3.3 percent at $26.09.

‘Poor Strategy’

John Paulson, the billionaire hedge-fund manager, said T-Mobile was a probable takeover target for Dish or Sprint earlier this year. Dish dropped an acquisition bid for Sprint in June after Japan’s SoftBank Corp. increased its offer to buy the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier.

Anne Marshall, a spokeswoman for Bellevue, Washington-based T-Mobile, declined to comment.

Last week, Dish said it was closing the remaining 300 Blockbuster LLC stores it owns in the U.S. and ending the business’s DVD-by-mail service. With the shutdown, about 2,800 jobs will be cut.

“Blockbuster was a poor strategy for us,” Ergen said today. “We could not get optionality. Where we are with wireless spectrum gives us optionality.”

(Updates with closing share prices in fifth paragraph.)
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