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Dish Network in merger talks with US’ T-Mobile

MUMBAI: Satellite broadcaster Dish Network is reported to be in merger talks with telecommunications provider T-Mobile US.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the two sides are in close agreement about what the combined company would look like, with Dish chief executive Charlie Ergen becoming the company’s chairman and his T-Mobile counterpart John Legere, serving as the combined company’s CEO.

The report adds that a deal would likely be very large. T-Mobile has a market capitalisation of about $31 billion, a little below Dish’s $33 billion.

Dish’s deal with T-Mobile would combine the country’s second-largest satellite TV operator with its fourth-largest wireless carrier. It would also address major strategic issues for both sides.

Reports mention that Dish lacks the robust broadband internet service that cable companies can lean on to offset a declining TV business. It also has amassed billions of dollars of wireless licenses but hasn’t built the cellular network needed to put them to use. T-Mobile’s wireless service would help address both needs.

T-Mobile has about 44.7 million retail customers, which includes mainstream and prepaid customers. Dish has 13.8 million satellite TV customers and 591,000 internet subscribers.

Deutsche Telekom owns 66 per cent of T-Mobile and has for several years been looking to either sell the company or merge it with another.

On the other hand, T-Mobile rival AT&T Inc is close to wrapping up its $49 billion deal for Dish rival DirecTV that will create the country’s largest pay TV company.

Meanwhile, Charter Communications Inc recently announced a total of $67 billion in deals that would roll up Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks to create the second-largest US cable operator.