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T-Mobile acquiring parent company of Mint Mobile

T-Mobile says it has entered into a definitive agreement to buy the parent company of wireless prepaid brands Mint Mobile and Ultra Mobile, a move that will see the Magenta network increase by two to three million more customers.

The acquisition of Ka’ena Corporation comes less than a year after reports indicated the Mint Mobile and Ultra Mobile brands were being shopped around to a potential buyer. In January, Bloomberg reported T-Mobile was considering a potential acquisition of the budget wireless brand.

The deal will see T-Mobile spend up to $1.35 billion to acquire Ka’ena Corporation, its two consumer wireless brands and wholesaler Plum. The company said 39 percent of its purchase will be made in cash, with the remaining 61 percent offered in T-Mobile preferred stock. The actual purchase price could be less than $1.35 billion, depending on how Ka’ena performs prior to the close of the deal.

Mint Mobile and Ultra Mobile customers should see no immediate changes. Both wireless brands already operate as a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, that relies on T-Mobile’s network for phone call and data services.

Mint Mobile is best known for its low-cost wireless phone product, where prepaid subscribers purchase several months of service at once. The brand is partially owned by actor Ryan Reynolds, who often appears in commercials that are deliberately produced on a shoestring budget (the presumption being that Mint Mobile is able to offer customers a deal on wireless service by skimping on marketing costs).

“Mint has built an incredibly successful digital direct-to-consumer business that continues to deliver for customers on the Un-Carrier’s leading 5G network, and now we are excited to use our scale and owners’ economics to help supercharge it – and Ultra Mobile – into the future,” Mike Sievert, the CEO of T-Mobile, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Mint has built an incredibly successful digital direct-to-consumer business that continues to deliver for customers on the Un-Carrier’s leading 5G network, and now we are excited to use our scale and owners’ economics to help supercharge it – and Ultra Mobile – into the future”

“Our brands have thrived on the T-Mobile network, and we are thrilled that this agreement will take them even further, bringing the many benefits of 5G to even more Americans,” David Glickman, the founder and CEO of Mint, Ultra and Plum, said. “This transaction validates our meteoric success and will unite two proven industry innovators committed to doing things differently in the wireless industry.”

Glickman and Rizwan Kassim will join T-Mobile to manage Mint, Ultra and Plum. Reynolds will stay on in a creative role at Mint, presumably to star in more commercials.

“Mint Mobile is the best deal in wireless and today’s news only enhances our ability to deliver for our customers,” Reynolds said, comically adding that T-Mobile beat out a bid from his own mother to acquire the brand.

“We believe the excellence of their 5G network will provide a better strategic fit than my mom’s slightly-above-average mahjong skills. I am so proud of the entire Mint team and so excited for what’s to come,” Reynolds joked.

T-Mobile said the planned purchase of Ka’ena Cororation is not expected to impact its ongoing stock repurchase plan or financial guidance for 2023.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).