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Monday, November 13, 2006

Mad Max M&A Deal Of The Week: Comcast And Sprint

Stocks: (S)(CMCSA)(VZ)(T)(MOT)(INTC)

The press likes to speculate when they don't have a hard story.

The latest big M&A spec is that Comcast will buy Sprint.

It is not entirely out of the question. Sprint has a market cap of $61 billion. Comcast's is $84 billion. That may be a show stopper. Does Comcast want to go to its shareholder's with that kind of dilution.

At the end of the day, Sprint is considered badly run, but it does have the third largest number of cell customers after Cingular and Verizon. The Cingular and Verizon technology networks give the phone companies an advantage once they get their fiber-to-the-home systems built out. At that point T and VZ can offer wireline voice, broadband, TV, and wireless phone service. Comcast does not have the wireless component. They partner with Sprint, but, if someone else buys the company, it could make things iffy for Comcast's wireless bundling.

Comcast has a huge lead now with 22 million customers already set up with one of its services. It is adding VoIP at a rapid pace. That has to sting the phone companies. And the telecom guys are still a couple of years away from having large fiber networks. In the meantime, Comcast gets more voice customers.

Sprint is also building a nationwide WiMax network with the help of Motorola and Intel, the bit WiMax champions. WiMax may not be the next big thing, but, if it ends up sending signals to cellphones, cars and home entertainment devices, it might come in handy for Comcast.

Sometimes a company gets bought because it would be to ugly to see it picked up by the competition. Sprint might fall into that bucket.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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