A potential buyer has emerged for what many consider to be the cellular industry's weakest major player, one which could be in search of a parent company.
Bloomberg reports the top official of Sprint (S) told Congress last week that his company would likely face purchase should federal regulators approve AT&T's ( ATT ) proposed acquisition of T-Mobile, which was announced in March after both companies' boards approved the pact. Louisiana-based CenturyLink ( CTL ), a large telecommunications firm, has no wireless division.
"CenturyLink is a company with a really good balance sheet and looking for areas to invest its capital, its free cash flow in growth," Chris Larsen, a New York-based Piper Jaffray analyst, told the news service. "If Sprint can stabilize and then begin to grow its customer base, it becomes a growth vehicle for them."
Verizon (VZ) would tumble from its top spot in the industry if number two AT&T and number four T-Mobile merge. Sprint is a distant number three and has vowed to challenge the merger, according to bizjournals.com .
"If CenturyLink imagines itself as a long-term player in the enterprise segment, they may need to add wireless," according to Craig Moffett of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. "You have to put them as perhaps the most likely long- term acquirer" for Sprint.