Dish Network co-founder Charlie Ergen testified in the T-Mobile-Sprint merger trial this week, and an interesting tidbit of info came up that could play a role in the trial’s outcome.
During the trial, lawyers were arguing whether certain parts of Ergen’s testimony should be conducted in open court. As noted by Fierce Wireless and New Street Research analyst Blair Levin, there were questions about Dish’s viability as a major fourth U.S. carrier and the attorney for Deutsche Telekom said that the judge should be aware of discussions that Dish is having with “very exciting, very exciting potential strategic partners to work with them and to develop this product in a way that becomes a real serious competitive threat.”
Dish’s lawyer reportedly went on to tease these potential strategic partners as “some of the most successful companies on the planet.” The topic was touched on again later by Ergen when he talked about potentially teaming up with others outside of the industry who might want to bundle wireless service with their products.
We don’t know exactly who Dish might be talking to, but rumors have suggested that Amazon and Google are two potential partners. For example, Dish could offer wireless service to Amazon Prime customers for an additional fee every month.
Ergen also mentioned that Dish has gotten high confidence letters of credit for $10 billion each from three banks: Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, and Deutsche Bank.
Since there’s not much known about Dish’s discussions, it’s tough to know how big of an effect they could have on Dish post-merger. That’s what the judge in the trial has to examine and make a decision about. If these discussions could lead to a deal with Dish and they’re as big as the defense is hinting at, that could help to sway the judge in favor of the merger.
The T-Mobile-Sprint merger trial will continue tomorrow. We know that Judge Victor Marrero has indicated that he wants a speedy trial, wanting to finish by December 20th or 23rd, so things could be wrapping up in the coming days.