Sextel: it ain’t over till its over

Wall Street Journal is reporting that the deal between Sprint and Nextel is going to be announced as early as Wednesday at New York’s St. Regis Hotel. But that doesn’t mean that some gatecrashers couldn’t crash the party: Verizon, Vodafone, Qwest and Alltel were some of the companies that could try and buy one of the two players. The New York Times has the story but it lacks the depth of the Journal piece.

Here is what some of the experts think about this deal. My old friend and former partner in chasing corporate crimes, Ben Silverman, now with has a unique perspective:

The FON-NXTL marriage would be a negative for BellSouth (BLS), SBC Communications (SBC) and Verizon (VZ) (collectively, “The Bells”), and major competitive telecoms AT&T (T) and MCI (MCIP). The new FON would be
positioned in the “sweet spot” of the battle between The Bells and cable operators (“MSOs”). FON is already carrying voice-over-Internet-protocol traffic for MSOs, and the company is now positioned to the be the number one wireless partner for the cable industry.
The potential FON-NXTL deal puts the spotlight on Sprint PCS affiliates Alamosa Holdings (APCS) and US Unwired (UNWR.OB), as well as independent carriers Western Wireless (WWCA), Rural Cellular (RCCC) and U.S. Cellular (USM). InPhonic (INPC), an online reseller of wireless services which recently went public, could also benefit as the remaining “big four”wireless carriers battle to protect market share.

Greg Gorbatenko of Marquis Investment Research has this to say:

The deal itself seems a little too cheap to us since NXTL can get a 5% bump in a normal day. Additionally, the PTT tech advantage would get lost in integration since the CDMA-PTT latency gap continues to be salient. Also, the line business at FON would languish due to absent love from the parent. Beyond obvious scale, we don’t see a big benefit since the iDEN premium would certainly seem to wane. The companies are quite different and the fit is not nearly as good as Cingular/AWE. We believe the success strategies get clouded. Sprint could lose focus on the wholesale biz and Nextel the iDEN biz.