Deutsche Telekom Open to T-Mobile USA merger –

Deutsche Telekom AG (DT) has decided not to sell its U.S. wireless subsidiary T-Mobile USA Inc. (formerly VoiceStream Wireless PLC) but is open to a merger.

"After completing a strategic review of our operations, we have come to the conclusion that it is not necessary to sell [T-Mobile USA)," Helmut Sihler, outgoing DT interim chief executive officer, said Thursday at a press conference in Bonn, Germany, to announce the group's third-quarter results. "The company is developing better than expected, but this doesn't rule out a merger."

Uwe-Kai Ricke, who was appointed earlier Thursday to replace Sihler as CEO, said he is "open to a merger but not at any price." Any deal, he said, would have to reflect the market value of T-Mobile USA, which is steadily expanding its customer base.

The U.S. wireless market is ripe for consolidation, and DT wants to remain a key player, Ricke said. A decision to merge T-Mobile USA, currently the smallest of the six wireless operators in the U.S, would give the company a stronger competitive position, he said.

"We view the possibility of a merger not as a means of reducing debt, but rather as an opportunity to maximize the value that currently resides in T-Mobile USA, for both shareholders and the company," Ricke said.

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