Giddy Investors Already ‘shipping Comcast, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile Mergers Under Trump Administration

Image courtesy of Ben Roffelsen Photography

This is shocking, we know, but: big businesses really like to make money. And when you’re already as huge as, say Comcast, one of the best ways to make oodles more money is to snap up another company and start raking in its revenues, too. Could Comcast snap up Verizon? Charter grab Sprint? At least one tech stock analyst thinks that deals like this, which might sound outlandish today, could be on the table soon.

A UBS investor memo, noticed by DSL Reports, shows that for some Wall Street investors, the future looks bright.

Based on the transition team President-Elect Donald Trump has named, it seems likely that incoming, as-yet-unnamed FCC leadership will be less focused on consumers and more focused on business than the current Commission has been. (Although the FCC has hardly been hostile to all mergers — AT&T/DirecTV and Charter/TWC/Bright House were approved since 2015, even though Comcast/TWC was blocked.)

The full memo looks at prior mergers in the cable and telecom space, and then lays out a whole bunch of potential new mergers we could theoretically see proposed in the coming years: Comcast/Sprint, Comcast/T-Mobile, Charter/Sprint, Charter/T-Mobile, Sprint/T-Mobile, Dish/T-Mobile, Verizon/Sprint, Verizon/Dish, Verizon/Comcast, and Verizon/Charter

These aren’t deep-dives; each theoretical merger gets a brief one-page overview with a few positives, a few negatives, and a handful of industry implications. For example, the Comcast/T-Mobile page posits that the two would see a great deal of synergy from integrating wired and wireless products and infrastructure, while the Comcast/Sprint page points out that such a merger would result in high spending to upgrade Sprint’s network.

Sprint is the most-likely acquisition target, the memo posits — specifically citing the changing political climate as why.

“With the confirmation of Jeffrey Eisenach to oversee the FCC transition, we believe consolidation could be back on the table with Sprint as a likely participant,” the company’s profile begins. And indeed, in a table reviewing all of the suggested mergers, purchasing Sprint is full of check marks in every column — all of which equal “more money” — for every other business.

FCC makeup aside, though, the memo also points out that to a certain degree, continued consolidation might be all but inevitable. The delineation between “phone” and “TV” is no longer as strong as it once was, and with the internet everywhere and available on all devices, formerly-separate industries are slowly drifting together anyway.

In investor speak, that drift is “secular changes in technology and usage [leading] to the convergence of the cable and wireless industries.”

The memo continues, “The transformation of the internet into a mobile-first platform combined with the rapid migration of video from proprietary networks to digital and the rise in in competitive pressure this entails increases the value of an integrated fixed and wireless service to cable providers.”

In other words: even without a huge shift in the regulatory landscape making the business end seem like a good idea for investors right now, we’re getting there anyway. Video — through Netflix and Amazon, Sling TV and DirecTV Now — is increasingly decoupled from video providers, so everyone may as well go all-in on being an internet company… and internet means mobile.

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