July 6, 2016 — Verizon Telematics, whose “hum” consumer vehicle connectivity business contributed 176,000 connected device adds in Q1 of this year, has purchased Telogis, a fleet navigation Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider with distribution through Ford, General Motors, Hino, Isuzu, Mack and Volvo’s Class 8 truck unit.
“This unit should serve as a nice complement to VZ’s [consumer vehicle] telematics division,” wrote Jennifer Fritsche, senior analyst, Wells Fargo Securities, wrote. “We believe this acquisition represents an interesting strategic move to ramp up its scale in the telematics space.”
Verizon’s purchase of Telogis will create one of the largest telematics company in the United States and it marks the first time a wireless company has bought a telematics concern, according to Fritzsche.
“But we do not think it will be the last. The telematics industry is highly fragmented with many smaller players funded by venture capital. We expect to see additional consolidation among these players to scale their platforms and appeal to a wider base of customers,” she wrote.
Terms of the transaction have not been disclosed and it is expected to close in the second half of 2016. PJT Partners and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC acted as financial advisors and Debevoise & Plimpton acted as legal advisor to Verizon. Barclays and J.P. Morgan acted as financial advisors and Paul Hastings acted as legal advisor to Telogis.
Wireless carrier consolidation and the accompanied jitters it inspires will be one of the top stories again in 2014.
As we headed in to the holiday break, the Wall Street Journal reported on Dec. 13 that Sprint was considering a merger with T-Mobile US, which set the industry into full speculation mode.
If such a merger would occur, Jennifer M. Fritzsche, senior analyst, Wells Fargo wrote, it would have the biggest impact on Crown Castle International, which has an overlap between T-Mobile US and Sprint totaling 8,000 sites, which accounts for 20 percent of its U.S. portfolio and 10 percent of its consolidated site rental revenues, according to Fritzsche. SBA Communications would be the least affected with an overlap of 2,000 sites or 13 percent of its domestic portfolio. American Tower has an overlap on 5,500 sites, which 20 percent of its domestic portfolio, but it accounts for less than 5 percent of its revenue.
Average remaining term of leases on affected sites at all of the big three tower companies is seven years.
“We would be affected very little by the combo of Sprint and T-Mobile US in terms of existing overlap, however it would affect our growth model and likely pricing on exit as I think initially the entire market would trade down,” said Ronald G. Bizick, II, CEO, Tarpon Towers.
The Nikkei Asian Review reported on Dec. 25 that Sprint’s owner, SoftBank, was in the final stages of talks with Deutsche Telekom to purchase the majority of shares in T-Mobile US for $19 billion. SoftBank has approached Credit Suisse, Mizuho Bank, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, looking for funding, according to Bloomberg News.
And then there are the antitrust and competition concerns of two major carriers merging. Not forgotten is AT&T’s $39 billion merger proposal for T-Mobile US in 2011 that was nixed by the Department of Justice. Worries caused by that deal stifled growth in cell site development for the better part of that year.
A Sprint/T-Mobile US merger would create a super carrier with 100 million subs, making it competitive with the current duopoly, AT&T and Verizon. The combo would also make Softbank the second largest carrier in the world behind China Mobile. Whether the deal goes through depends in part on whether it is seen by the FCC and DoJ as improving competition or harming it.
Another issue might be timing of the merger, according to Mobile Ecosystem analyst Mark Lowenstein. “[Softbank’s] Masayoshi Son’s already uphill battle [to merge with T-Mobile US] has become progressively steeper given T-Mobile’s 2013 trifecta of successful Metro integration/expansion, rapid LTE deployment, and success with its ‘un-carrier’ strategy,” he wrote. “AT&T’s planned acquisition of Leap will put further pressure on Sprint MVNOs. Plus, the incentive auctions have been delayed into 2015, pushing commercial reality of additional sub-2.5 GHz spectrum for Sprint even further out.”
To make matters even more complicated, Charlie Ergen, the driver of much of last year’s merger melodramas, has decided he may want to poke in his nose. Reuters reported on Dec. 18 that DISH Network was considering its own bid for T-Mobile US, pitting it against Sprint, the carrier it used to want to buy.