Saturday, November 11, 2006

Is Sprint a Takeover Target?

Fifteen months after one major merger created Sprint Nextel Corp., Wall Street investment banks are playing mix and match over the prospects of another megadeal.

This time, however, Sprint is more likely to be the seller than the buyer.

In a 44-page report titled “Deal or No Deal?” released Friday, Citigroup analysts speculated that Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable company, was likely to go shopping soon for a wireless business. Moreover, Citigroup considers Sprint a prime target.

“While Comcast has several options to sell wireless services, we assess a 40 percent probability that it will acquire a wireless company within the next 12 months, with Sprint as the most likely option within this context,” wrote Citigroup analysts Jason Bazinet, Michael Rollins and Michael Williams.

The report said T-Mobile was another possibility. It also suggested that Sprint could benefit, and discourage a Comcast bid, by acquiring Alltel Corp., a wireless carrier based in Little Rock, Ark., with more than 11 million customers.

Sprint officials declined to offer reaction Friday.

“We do not comment on rumors or speculation,”
said James Fisher, a Sprint spokesman.

The possibility of a Comcast-Sprint combination or other acquisition of Sprint has percolated behind the scenes among Wall Street analysts for weeks. Recent days, however, marked a turning point as a flurry of research reports addressed the topic head-on.

Source: The Kansas City Star

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