T-Mobile USA parent company seeks spinoff or IPO, report says

T-Mobile is fourth largest wireless carrier in the U.S.

The German parent of T-Mobile USA is exploring a spinoff of the U.S. unit, or an initial public offering (IPO), according to unnamed sources in a report.

German telecom carrier Deutsche Telekom AG has held discussions with some banks, including Deutsche Bank AG, to underwrite the IPO for T-Mobile USA, according to unnamed sources cited in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

In addition to a possible IPO, the German carrier could make T-Mobile a separate business with its own balance sheet. Even a merger with another carrier is possible, but less likely.

Officials at T-Mobile USA and its parent could not be reached for immediate comment.

T-Mobile reported more than 33 million wireless customers in the U.S. in its latest financial statement, with about $19 billion in annual revenues. That 33 million put T-Mobile in fourth place in the U.S., behind Sprint Nextel with about 48 million; AT&T with about 85 million and Verizon Wireless with about 91 million.

Even though T-Mobile USA has been aggressive with pricing plans, new smartphones, TV advertising and upgrades to faster network infrastructure, it lost 77,000 customers in the third quarter of 2009.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed @matthamblen or subscribe to . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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