earlier report suggesting that T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom (DT) might buy Sprint Nextel.
One potential buyer: a consortium of investors including Nextel founder Morgan O’Brien, who has since founded Cyren Call, a company hoping to build a wireless network for public safety usage. Other potential suiters include private equity firms, the WSJ says.
What’s it worth? Not much. Sprint paid $35 billion for the company in 2005, and during Q4, wrote off most of it — $29.7 billion — as a goodwill impairment charge. Sprint is also developing a walkie-talkie system that works on its own network — not Nextel’s — which could further cannibalise the business. Then again, that business in contracting very fast: Nextel has 13.2 million subs, down from 16.6 million two years ago, and the WSJ quotes sources “close to Sprint” who predict that Nextel’s core market could shrink to 5 million in two years. WSJ:
Sprint could also choose to simply spin off Nextel into a separate company. The knowledgeable people said no deal is imminent and cautioned that Sprint was preoccupied for the moment with other matters. Sprint is closing in on a deal to create a wireless broadband joint venture with Craig McCaw’s Clearwire Corp. The new company would be backed by more than $3 billion in equity financing from leading cable providers and tech giants including Intel Corp. and Google Inc. The deal would value the new venture at more than $12 billion, people familiar with it said.
Dealing with Nextel would be the next major strategic priority for Sprint and its relatively new chief executive, Dan Hesse. There is a sense of heightened urgency within the company about the rapid decline of Nextel, which has seen a steady stream of subscriber losses in recent years due to poor call quality, customer service and handset selection. The mere prospect of unwinding the Sprint-Nextel deal is startling, given the high hopes investors and executives at both companies had at the time of the union, which created the nation’s No. 3 wireless operator.