Satellite communications company Globlastar (GSAT) shot higher on Friday afternoon on reports that the company is talking with advisers about a possible sale.
Globalstar, which owns wireless spectrum, had already attracted attention after a bidding war for spectrum holding company Straight Path (STRP) , pitting AT&T (T) against Verizon (VZ) and ultimately leading to a $3.1 billion sale to Verizon. Bloomberg reported Friday that Globalstar is in talks with advisers about exploring a sale.
Shares of Globalstar rose 33% to $2.54 in the afternoon, putting the company's market cap at $2.8 billion.
"The one thing that can't be denied it is currently a seller's market with respect to spectrum generally," said David Tawil of Maglan Capital, which owns shares in Globalstar.The bidding for Straight Path began during an FCC quiet period limiting talks between wireless carriers that took part in a spectrum auction. The restrictions on talks, which ended on April 27, could have deterred rival suitors.
Straight Path reached an attractive sale price even though it was forced to sell. The FCC fined the company for "squatting" on spectrum, or failing to deploy service on licenses. On top of a $15 million penalty, Straight Path would have to pay another $85 million if it did not sell itself this year.Facing an FCC-mandated sale, Straight Path could not exactly play hard-to-get with suitors. Still, bids rose from AT&T's initial offer of $1.6 billion to Verizon's final price of $3.1 billion.
"It shows that there is a scarcity of spectrum and spectrum is in demand," Tawil said.
Globalstar has an operating business that generated about $97 million in sales last year.
The company won clearance from the Federal Communications Commission to use its spectrum in terrestrial wireless service in December. The company says it is seeking approvals in foreign countries to deploy wireless service on its spectrum. Straight Path only had U.S. wavelengths.
Unlike Straight Path, though, Tawil suggested that Globalstar can afford to wait.
Globalstar says its spectrum is well suited for small cells, a type of wireless infrastructure that extends coverage of wireless networks in areas where traditional cell towers have insufficient coverage, such as shopping malls or arenas.
"The final rules adopted by the FCC [regarding Globalstar] provide for either or both indoor or outdoor small cell services that provide a high-quality solution to address increasing capacity requirements across all wireless network," Monroe told investors during an early-May earnings call.
Verizon and AT&T have deployed small cells in the past.
The question is whether a broader field of bidders will materialize for Globalstar.
Comcast (CMCSA) and Charter (CHTR) recently announced an agreement in which they will explore wireless opportunities. The cable companies plan to resell Verizon's service in their territories. Comcast bought spectrum in the recently concluded government auction, and the cable operators could purchase more licenses together.
And T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere recently questioned whether companies such as Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google and Amazon (AMZN) would also enter the wireless business through partnerships or other arrangements.