Nokia-Microsoft Deal Delayed

As reported by CNBC, Nokia has been forced to delay the completion of the sale of its phone business to Microsoft due to continued regulatory hurtles in Asia. Nokia stated that they expect the deal to close in April 2014, while previous guidance had stated an expected Q1 2014 close. In September 2013, Microsoft agreed to buy Nokia's phone business for $7.2 billion. However, after six months the deal has not closed, fueling concerns about whether the merger will ever come to fruition. Analysts believe the group may be forced to offer further concessions to Asian regulatory authorities, despite receiving approvals from both the European Commision and US Dept of Justice. Most likely, given the clout of these two companies, the deal will be pushed through and necessary changes made to satisfy all regulatory requirements. Read the entire article here.

Mobli Receives $60M in Funding from América Móvil

November 6, 2013 11:18 by Clayton Reeves in Telecom, Venture Capital  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)
It's getting crowded in the mobile video and picture sharing space.  As reported in TechCrunch, Mobli, an Israel based picture/video sharing service and competitor to apps like Instagram, received a $60 million investment from América Móvil. América Móvil, if you remember, is the Latin American telecom giant led by billionaire Carlos Slim. The strategic investment will provide Mobli with access to América Móvil's millions of mobile users. In addition, the funds will allow Mobli to introduce a new "visual search engine." “Mobli has developed a remarkable technology and this strategic alliance will allow América Móvil to bring value added experiences for its users throughout the Americas,” Carlos Slim recently said. This isn't the first high profile backing Mobli has received - celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Serena Williams have already invested in the company, which is now valued at around $1 billion. Read more from TechCrunch here. Snapshot of mobli milestones: Source: CrunchBase

Would Anyone Buy BlackBerry?

August 12, 2013 17:50 by Clayton Reeves in Capital Markets, M&A, Telecom  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Today, BlackBerry halted trading of their shares and announced their intentions to explore strategic alternatives in an effort to ensure their BlackBerry 10 release goes well.  They have formed a Special Committee of the Board in an effort to make these strategic plans more tangible. Timothy Dattels, Chairman of the aforementioned special committee, recently said, "During the past year, management and the Board have been focused on launching the BlackBerry 10 platform and BES 10, establishing a strong financial position, and evaluating the best approach to delivering long-term value for customers and shareholders."  This effort has apparently expanded beyond the walls of BlackBerry to include a potential corporate transaction. So, given the fact that BlackBerry is now exploring their options, what will we see happen in the next weeks and months? There are basically two options: BlackBerry can go private or they can be sold to another company. Going Private: This would remove the quarterly stress of earnings, continuously swirling negative sentiment and allow the company to reinvent itself from the relative privacy a private company enjoys. Right now, they are caught in a downward spiral of tremendously reduced market share, a series of failed products and an angry investor base. Going private could help to stem this tide. However, it won't change the intrinsic nature of the company, which has been producing some lackluster offerings in the mobile sphere. Selling the Company: This is the other primary alternative this special committee is most likely considering.Who would buy a former market leader that has been destroyed in recent years by Apple, Google and Microsoft? Well, Microsoft might be a potential landing spot for BlackBerry. The Windows Phone has picked up some steam, and Microsoft could have an interest in eating up BlackBerry's market share and trying to keep it for themselves. One intriguing possibility for BlackBerry would be a Chinese acquirer.  Companies like Huawei and ZTE have the capital and ambition necessary to play in the North American arena, and it may be more cost and time effective to resurrect a struggling brand like BlackBerry than start from scratch. So, there are two main alternatives for the committee to consider, both with potential pitfalls and challenges.  However, either option could prevent the only way for BlackBerry to halt their downward slide.  It will be interesting to see who comes forward in this process, vying for a chance to buy the former market leader. Click here to read the press release from BlackBerry.

The Rise of Private Public Partnerships

July 18, 2013 14:53 by Bill Conway in Capital Markets, Economy, Energy, M&A, Natural Gas, Private Equity, Regulation, Telecom, Utilities, Water  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
Establishing Private Public Partnerships (P3) should have the attention of many municipal organizations across the country since, even in good economic conditions, infrastructure assets are not the highest and best use of a cities limited resources. [More]

Telecom Industry Sees M&A Heating Up

July 16, 2013 09:42 by Clayton Reeves in M&A, Telecom  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)
Earlier in June, there were several articles saying that telecom could be getting ready to see the biggest merger spree since 2006.  Here is a list of telecom acquisitions over the last two years.  In an article in the Kansas City Star yesterday, this school of thought was further supported. AT&T offered $1.2 billion to buy Leap Wireless International Inc., adding motivation for smaller competitors such as Sprint Corp. and Dish Network Corp. to bulk up through deals of their own.  Additionally, this offer could create a bidding war similar to what was seen with Clearwire when Sprint and Dish fought it out in a bidding battle.  Verizon may be inclined to up the bidding for Leap simply to make AT&T pay a higher multiple. Chetan Sharma, a wireless-industry analyst in Issaquah, Washington, said “Everyone below the top four is pretty much done [because of the looming consolidation], I don’t think they’ll exist beyond the next 18 months.”   Now that would be some transformational change in the telecom sphere. Read more here.

Sprint Shareholders Approve $21.6 Billion Acquisition by SoftBank

June 27, 2013 10:05 by Clayton Reeves in M&A, Telecom  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)
After nearly eight months of drama and deal making worthy of its own television series, Sprint investors have agreed to be acquired by SoftBank for $21.6 billion.  Softbank has the majority of regulatory approvals in line, although they still need to be cleared by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). This deal seemed done in late 2012, when SoftBank made an offer of $20.1 billion for  70 percent of the company.  However, Dish came in with a  $25.5 billion offer for Sprint in April, although the terms were rumored to be more restrictive and less appealing to Sprint.  Sprint also has mentioned that the bid was never firm enough to be considered “actionable.”  To seal the deal, SoftBank raised its bid to $21.6 billion for 78 percent of Sprint on June 10.  Sprint set a date of June 18th for Dish to respond, and although Dish protested the time line, they subsequently withdrew their bid.  Sprint was also competing with Dish in their bid for affiliate Clearwire.  Dish dropped their bid for Clearwire after Sprint raised their price to $5/share.  Thus, the way was clear of major obstacles and the two sides were able to get a deal done. This appears to be good news for Sprint, as SoftBank’s Chief Executive Masayoshi Son has performed a similar turnaround on Vodafone and has extensive experience in the telecom sector.  He is appalled at the lack of speed in the US wireless marketplace, which he says lags Japan by 30-40%.  It will be interesting to see what changes come to Sprint, and the excitement surrounding the company is a welcome change from the struggles they’ve encountered since the Nextel merger. (Information above sourced from Bloomberg, WSJ and Reuters)

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