NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Having fed the flames of speculation for months, T-Mobile USA (TMUS) - Get T-Mobile US, Inc. Report and Dish Network (DISH) - Get DISH Network Corporation Class A Report are beginning to agree on the structure of a potential Dish purchase of T-Mobile that would give T-Mobile's customers access to Dish's $10 billion in unused cellular frequencies, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Outspoken T-Mobile CEO John Legere would become CEO of the combined company while Charlie Egen, Dish's top executive and founder, would become chairman in a merger, according to the paper, which said the sides have yet to agree on a price.
Both companies as well as industry observers have said such a deal could make perfect sense as consumers increasingly seek the ability to see entertainment and social media content on any device anywhere. Only phone companies with widespread broadband and cellular assets as well as entertainment partners are able to deliver, pushing a consolidation among phone companies, Internet stalwarts and TV providers.
In another major consolidation play, AT&T (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report and DirecTV Group (DTV) are working to merge in a $67 billion agreement that will unite two companies synonymous with telecoms and entertainment, respectively.
Dish couldn't immediately be reached to comment on the report and although T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom AG, the German phone company, refused comment, outspoken T-Mobile CEO Legere took to Twitter to label the report a "rumor that deserves no comment".
Strong words from a CEO who in February told Telekom investors that a link with Dish could "make some sense." At No. 4, T-Mobile is the smallest cellular provider in the U.S. but has found success with cut-rate pricing plans. Still, it lacks the cellular frequencies to keep up with larger rivals.
And parent Telekom has consistently worked to unload T-Mobile. Sprint, backed by Japan's Softbank, last August called off talks to buy T-Mobile in a deal that valued the pink-branded phone company at $26.4 billion. It later rejected an offer worth about $15 billion from France's Iliad SA. T-Mobile had a market cap of $31.3 billion at Wednesday's close.
Regulators also famously prohibited a planned 2011 acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T and were skeptical of a potential link with Sprint over fears that the disappearance of a discount provider could skew competition. A merger with a TV provider would likely have no such regulatory concerns.
Still, T-Mobile hasn't been left deal-less -- two years ago it merged with regional provider MetroPCS Communications to gain heft and a U.S. listing.
Telekom shares gained 1.5%, or €0.225, to €15.77 ($17.72) in morning Frankfurt, the only gainer on Germany's DAX 30 benchmark index.