Sprint CFO silent on MetroPCS acquisition plans

Jon Euteneuer says he still believes in industry consolidation

Is Sprint preparing a bid for prepaid wireless carrier MetroPCS? Whatever the rumors and whatever the company's plans, its chief financial officer didn't offer any clues when speaking Wednesday morning at a conference in Arizona.

Last week Deutsche Telekom said it was in talks with MetroPCS Wireless regarding a deal to combine it with T-Mobile USA. Reports have said Sprint or satellite pay TV operator Dish Network could also be interested in a deal with MetroPCS.

"We aren't going to comment on the whole M&A thing," said Joe Euteneuer, in response to a question. "We believe in consolidation in the industry, I don't think that has changed."

MetroPCS has just over 9 million customers and operates in major population centers in the U.S. It concentrates on offering prepaid wireless plans, in contrast to most of the larger carriers that sign up the majority of their customers to contracts that are a year or longer. T-Mobile is the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S. cellular industry with 33 million subscribers.

Euteneuer, who has been CFO at third-ranked Sprint since April last year, was asked what a T-Mobile deal with MetroPCS would mean for the industry.

"I think all you've seen is two players trying to consolidate," he said. "That's all you've seen. I don't know what else to tell you."

Euteneuer was speaking at the Deutsche Bank Leveraged Finance Conference in Scottsdale, which was webcast.

He was also asked about a possible deal with Dish Network, which has said it wants to get into the wireless business with a partner. Dish Network has been seeking approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to use a spectrum band that has been dedicated to satellites, called AWS-4, for a land-based LTE network.

"If somebody owns spectrum and has the idea [of] sharing that spectrum and having it run on somebody else's network versus building it out themselves, I think there's always ways to figure out how to do that from a technical standpoint. I'd have to talk to the engineers specifically, but I don't think there is that much in our way from making something like that happen," he said.

Previously, Sprint agreed to host a network being planned by LightSquared, letting the latter carrier piggyback on Sprint's network to save money. The deal was canceled earlier this year.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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