French telecom Iliad wants to drink Sprint's T-Mobile milkshake

Update: Iliad has confirmed with a press release that it is indeed making the bid for T-Mobile, and has submitted the offer to T-Mo's Board of Directors. Iliad's owners and Board of Directors have unanimously approved the deal, which would see Iliad paying $15 billion in cash for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile, valuing it at $36.20 per share, a 42 percent premium over its current stock price.

Original story: In a bid that's come way out of left field, French telecommunications firm Iliad SA is also offering to buy a controlling stake in T-Mobile US. T-Mobile, itself a subsidiary of T-Mobile Germany, has been engaged in long-running negotiations with US rival Sprint. The $15 billion bid from Iliad comes as a surprise, not just for their previously unexpressed interest, but that Iliad is a smaller company that T-Mobile in both terms of subscribers and value.

Iliad's carrier subsidiary Free Mobile has a little over 7 million subscribers, while T-Mobile just crossed 50 million. Iliad as a company is valued at $16 billion (€12 billion), while T-Mobile US has a market capitalization of $24.8 billion. Iliad has apparently offered T-Mobile "about $33 a share" for the company... less than a 6% premium on the trading price of TMUS before the revelation of the proposal. Iliad is seeking a 56.6% share that would give them de facto control of T-Mobile. Regardless of how much Iliad offers for a takeover of T-Mobile, but they'd be looking at taking on an enormous debt load.

Iliad's Free Mobile has only been around since 2012, and has captured more than 12% of the French cellular subscriber market. They've been incredibly aggressive with their pricing, offering plans for a little as €2 ($2.68) a month.

But there's a bit of a kindred spirit between T-Mobile US and Free Mobile. Both have pushed to simplify the mobile phone process in eliminating (or avoiding from the start) subsidies on phones and dumping formal contract plans.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Iliad