Amazon and Sprint may pick over RadioShack’s remains

After getting suspended from the New York Stock Exchange, RadioShack is probably headed for bankruptcy, but it looks to have a couple of potential buyers lined up to take over its retail stores. Both Amazon and Sprint are weighing bids for some of RadioShack’s 4,000 U.S. locations, according to two separate reports from Bloomberg.

[company]Sprint[/company], which Bloomberg says is interested in 1,300 to 2,000 stores, might mainly be interested in [company]RadioShack[/company] for defensive reasons since RadioShack is one of its big reseller partners. The electronics chain has not only long sold Sprint phones, it also carries its prepaid Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile brands. [company]Amazon[/company], however, would be tackling some entirely new: brick-and-mortar retail.

Amazon, too, is only interested in some of Radio Shack’s locations, Bloomberg reported, but those stores could serve as showcases for its increasing number of mobile devices, living room gadgets and services. Amazon could also use the stores as physical pick-up and drop-off locations for customers, as well as provide immediate face-to-face tech support the way Apple does in its Genius Bars.

AT&T to buy Nextel Mexico, continuing continental expansion

AT&T’s plans to tackle the Mexico market aren’t just limited to buying a single mobile operator Iusacell. It announced Monday it is buying Iusacell’s competitor Nextel Mexico for $1.875 billion from NII Holdings and will merge its operations into its growing pan-American network.

[company]AT&T[/company] closed its $2.5B deal for Iusacell earlier this month, making it the third largest mobile carrier in Mexico. Adding Nextel’s 3 million subscribers will give AT&T about 12.2 million customers in Mexico, but it will remain a distant third place to Mexican giant [company]América Móvil[/company].

Nextel Mexico is one of the many companies to carry the Nextel brand throughout North and South America. The most famous version Nextel Communications was acquired by Sprint a decade ago, and its brand was only recently retired. But several other Nextel’s continued operating in different countries under the [company]NII Holdings[/company] umbrella. NII filed for bankruptcy last year, so the AT&T offer has to go through the bankruptcy court. That means it could trigger a potential auction for Nextel Mexico’s assets.

Like the other Nextels, Nextel Mexico runs iDEN Networks, which were once celebrated for their walkie-talkie-like push-to-talk capabilities but fell out of use during the mobile data revolution. Nextel Mexico, however, has since launched a 3G network based on HSPA technology that lines up with AT&T’s technology. It’s also launched LTE in three major cities: Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey.

Broadcasters try to block Aereo asset sale, $90M tax transfer

The TV industry has already shut down Aereo at the Supreme Court and driven it into bankruptcy, but that’s apparently not enough: now CBS, Fox, NBC and other big broadcasters are asking a judge to block any asset sale that would allow the defunct streaming TV company to reinvent itself as a cloud-DVR service.

According to bankruptcy court filings, the broadcasters believe that an asset sale could deprive them of the ability to collect copyright damages related to Aereo’s services. Aereo allowed consumers to retransmit and record over-the-air TV signals via their mobile devices. The Supreme Court shut down the service this summer after six of the nine Justices concluded that Aereo required a license.

That ruling effectively ended a bid by Aereo’s investors to create an internet-based TV service, and forced the company into bankruptcy. The issue now is whether Aereo can re-emerge from bankruptcy with a new business model that is based just on its remote recording technology. While the Supreme Court ruled that the portion of Aereo’s service that allowed consumers to watch live TV infringed copyright, it declined to rule on whether Aereo’s cloud-based recording service — which operated akin to a VCR — was legal.

As the court filings show, the broadcasters believe a bankruptcy sale would let Aereo escape this question by relaunching as a new corporate operation. Here’s the key passage from a motion filed this week (emphasis mine):

If Aereo elects to sell its assets, Aereo should not be allowed to use the automatic stay to evade resolution of the issue as to the lawfulness of time-delayed retransmissions. If allowed to do so, Aereo would, in effect, be using the automatic stay as a device to obtain option value from a prospective purchaser willing to gamble on whether time-delayed retransmissions are infringing.

As the passage notes, broadcasters fear that an Aereo sale could force them to start their copyright campaign anew, since a transaction borne of bankruptcy court would let a new corporate entity operate unencumbered from existing litigation. A sale would let Aereo would get a second act under a new name, in other words.

A $90–$100 million tax carryover

Overall, the bankruptcy court filing is also consistent with the broadcasters’ ongoing strategy, which has been to try to drive Aereo deep into the ground rather than grant it a license or negotiate other legal avenues to make the service work. According to a person familiar with the case, this strategy has also included taking a hard line on copyright damage demands. This legal exposure has, in turn, made it impossible for Aereo to find new investors or another company to acquire it.

From the broadcasters’ perspective, their damage demands have not been about recouping actual losses, since Aereo never had more than 100,000 subscribers to begin with (and the TV content in question was free and over-the-air). Instead, the lawsuit has been about exerting maximum control over TV at a time when more consumers are seeking entertainment options on the internet instead of via traditional cable and satellite bundles.

Finally, the bankruptcy court filings show that Aereo appears to have burned through $90 to $100 million after losing its big legal bet on the copyright issue. As the broadcasters note, those losses could be a valuable tax credit to a company that acquires Aereo — though the broadcasters, for their part, are doing their best to ensure that never happens:

In its Sale Motion, Aereo notes that it has a “so-called net loss carryover for Federal tax purposes of approximately $90 million to $100 million.” (Sale Motion ¶16.) Aereo describes this “tax attribute” as an “asset that some parties would find of significant value in connection with a reorganization or other transaction that would preserve the future use of that attribute under applicable law.” (Id.). Thus, Aereo’s proposed sale process appears to be designed in a way that will allow the insiders to retain control of the company and to take advantage of the net loss carryover.

Here’s the motion, which the broadcasters filed in Manhattan bankruptcy court on Monday:

Broadcasters Objection to Aereo Sale

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MtGox finds 200,000 bitcoins it claims to have forgotten about

MtGox really is a gift that keeps on giving: now in the throes of bankruptcy, the audit-averse Bitcoin exchange said late Thursday that it has found 200,000 bitcoins in an “old-format” wallet it previously thought was empty. That means it has only lost 650,000 bitcoins – 550,000 of which belong to its customers — rather than the 850,000 it previously thought had been pilfered by thieves (“evidence” that MtGox still has almost a million bitcoins is deeply suspect, accompanied as it was by fraudulent malware). The re-found bitcoins are worth around $116 million, which will interest the courts handling MtGox’s bankruptcy in Japan and the U.S., and customers clamoring for their money back.

Dish dumps its bid for LightSquared

Dish Network’s(s dish) courtroom dance with LightSquared appears to have concluded. Reuters reports that the committee overseeing LightSquared’s bankruptcy auction confirmed Dish has withdrawn its $2.2 billion bid for the company, leaving its controversial L-band spectrum on the table. Dish has other options when it comes to building a mobile broadband network, and now LightSquared’s owners — who opposed Dish’s involvement — appear to be free to pursue their plan to lobby the FCC for relief, assuming the court plays ball.