Breakingviews

Beware a bluff from poker-playing Dish boss

June 4, 2015

Charlie Ergen would be making a bold bet by merging his $35 bln U.S. satellite operator with similarly-sized wireless provider T-Mobile US. Given the spectrum Dish has accumulated, a deal could make sense. Ergen has proven wily, though, and plays his cards very carefully.

Avago offers textbook case for chip consolidation

May 28, 2015

The serial acquirer is buying semiconductor rival Broadcom for more than $36 bln. Cost cuts should just about cover the 30 pct premium. Avago’s track record, the cash-and-stock mix and the logic of industry mergers all add up, too. Only an interloper could spoil the party.

Time Warner Cable finds money covers Charter flaws

May 26, 2015

CEO Rob Marcus rejected a bid from his smaller rival last year, balking at the leverage, cash and stock on offer. Those terms haven’t changed much but the price has gone up appreciably, to $56 bln. Time Warner Cable provides a reminder about what really matters in deal talks.

Altice’s $9 bln U.S. foray shows controlled ambition

May 20, 2015

Patrick Drahi’s telecoms group is paying 10.1 times EBITDA to enter the U.S. cable market. But cost-cutting should reduce the multiple, and it could be a springboard for further consolidation. It’s a more conservative step than another mooted deal: a tilt at Time Warner Cable.

Verizon’s dumb pipes no smarter with $4.4 bln AOL

May 12, 2015

Seeking refuge from a vicious wireless war, the telecom carrier is buying the owner of the Huffington Post and old internet dial-up customers. The video ad tech business may be the prize, but it faces threats from Google and others. This is just another silly deal involving AOL.

Nokia will struggle to cut through Alcatel tangle

April 14, 2015

An all-stock takeover by the Finnish company would create a roughly 40 bln euro telecoms equipment giant. Nokia investors are understandably sceptical. A deal would mean another big restructuring and stretch the buyer’s industrial expertise. The French connection adds complexity.

Charter deal may not be final word on Bright House

March 31, 2015

The $10.4 bln acquisition, contingent on Comcast buying Time Warner Cable, suggests some confidence those rivals will get approval. If not, however, the U.S. cable puzzle could realign. Charter again might chase Time Warner Cable, which actually has first dibs on Bright House.

ZTE’s turnaround not as impressive up close

March 26, 2015

The Chinese telco equipment maker’s earnings almost doubled in 2014 – an improvement on the losses it was making three years ago. Yet revenue increased just 8 percent. ZTE is banking on smartphones and wearables to drive growth, but users don’t yet seem to be taking the bait.

French telco buyout shows dealmaker in a hurry

March 2, 2015

Vivendi is selling its residual 20 pct in Numericable-SFR to the mobile operator itself and parent Altice for 3.9 bln euros. This helps Altice’s billionaire boss Patrick Drahi prepare for a follow-on deal with Bouygues. It’s harder to see why Vivendi would accept a big markdown.

Time Warner Cable’s deal risk goes down to wire

February 20, 2015

A $45 bln sale to larger rival Comcast hangs in regulatory balance. Time Warner Cable’s stock price implies a 40 pct chance of collapse. A Breakingviews calculator shows how longer odds of success might hurt investors. The lack of a break fee would add insult to injury.