Xavier Niel, one of France’s richest men, has made a $15 billion cash bid for control of T-Mobile US.
According to Bloomberg News, last month Niel’s telecom service provider Iliad S.A. offered $33 a share for just under 57 percent of T-Mobile. Incidentally, T-Mobile is probably five times larger than Iliad, so it looks in comparison like a T-Rex.
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But Deutsche Telekom, which owns T-Mobile, didn’t go for the bid. They were much more interested in a $40 per share bid they expected from Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son’s Softbank Corp., owner of Sprint. And then Sprint changed its mind.
And suddenly $33 a share didn’t look so bad.
According to Bloomberg, a takeover by Niel’s company would preserve the status quo of the U.S. market, keeping the same number of operators.
There’s no doubt that Niel is looking to do for consumers in America what he did in France: go after the telecommunications behemoths and underbid the living daylights out of them.
Niel thinks the U.S. market is ripe for it, with AT&T and Verizon pushing the highest tariffs in the world.
You want the math: according to the International Telecommunication Union’s most recent figures, 500 megabytes of mobile data in the U.S. costs an average of $85, compared with $34.60 in France.
And that was all Xavier Niel.
Niel, whose current net worth is estimated at $7.9 Billion, and is also a co-owner of the newspaper Le Monde, told the NY Times last year that his goal is to instill a Web-based entrepreneurial culture in France.
“If people like us don’t start to change things in France, nothing is ever going to change, ” Niel said. “Today France is the fifth-largest economy in the world. But if we don’t change things, we will be the 25th biggest in just 10 years.”
And now he’ll do the same to America. Good on him.