Deutsche Telekom Accounting Shift Sparks Rumours of T-Mobile Sale
By: Ian Mansfield
Germany's Deutsche Telekom has shifted the ownership of its 67% stake in T-Mobile USA from its German holding company to a Netherlands based one.
Deutsche Telekom told the Reuters news agency that it made the transfer as part of a larger internal restructuring to simplify its business structure, and that it should not be interpreted as anything else.
However, the move has fueled speculation that the German parent is inching closer to a sale of its US subsidiary.
Under the previous merger agreement with MetroPCS, Deutsche Telekom is not permitted to sell a portion of its shares in T-Mobile on the open market for 18 months, but can engage in a trade sale of its entire holding to a single buyer.
There have been persistent rumours that Sprint, which is 80% owned by Japan's Softbank is looking at a possible merger with T-Mobile USA. SoftBank's CEO Masayoshi Son was recently reported to have held talks with at least five banks to finance a possible bid.
He is said to be looking to raise around US$20 billion to buy Deutsche Telekom's 67% stake in T-Mobile USA.
A transfer of the 67% stake from Germany to the Netherlands could be seen as a sign that a sale is being considered, as the Netherlands has more favourable tax rules covering corporate asset sales. The tax situation is one of the reasons why so many companies base their holding companies in that country.
On the web: Reuters