Charter Communications turned down a tie-up with Sprint, following suggestions last week that the US operator had proposed a merger with the cable company, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
“We understand why a deal is attractive for [Sprint owner] SoftBank, but Charter has no interest in acquiring Sprint,” a Charter spokesperson said.
The “complex” proposal included creating a new publicly traded entity which would combine Sprint and Charter and be controlled by SoftBank (despite Charter being the more valuable company).
Bloomberg subsequently reported that Softbank chief Masayoshi Son may still make a bid to acquire Charter outright, although the size of such a potential deal has raised eyebrows among some observers.
News that Sprint was in talks with Charter, as well as rival cable company Comcast, about a potential partnership came last month, when Sprint apparently put the brakes on merger talks with T-Mobile US.
Son had entered into an exclusive agreement for discussions with the cable firms which ended this week, but Son continued to push for “a full-blown merger” with Charter, the WSJ report said.
The original talks were supposed to be around a resale agreement. When announcing their mobile plans in May, Charter and Comcast said they would use Verizon Communications’ network, but it was thought a Sprint deal could offer more favourable terms.
However, in its emailed statement, Charter said: “We have a very good MVNO relationship with Verizon and intend to launch wireless services to cable customers next year.”
Charter is worth around $100 billion, while Sprint’s value stands at approximately $30 billion.
A merger would have meant customers would have access to media, internet and mobile phone services in one place, and the combined company would be in a stronger position to deploy the infrastructure required for 5G.
Talks with Comcast, too, appear not to have panned out. John Malone, whose Liberty Broadband is Charter’s largest investor, reportedly tried to talk Comcast into jointly buying an operator.
However, Comcast CEO Briant Roberts said in an earnings call that “we really feel we’re not missing anything… No disrespect to wireless. It’s a tough business”.
It was also reported earlier this month that Sprint could be set for a cash injection of $20 billion if ongoing talks between its owners and billionaire investors Warren Buffett and Malone prove successful.