Mystery bidder mysteriously outbids itself for Straight Path

Straight Path Communications has found itself in the middle of a bidding war, but no-one’s 100% sure who is on either side.

The fun started back in April, when AT&T confirmed its intention to buy Straight Path for $1.6 billion, seemingly to access its portfolio of millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum. This bid was then superseded by a superior bid from a ‘multinational telecommunications company’ of $1.8 billion, before last week the ante was upped again to $2.3 billion, once again by this mystery bidder. This final bid of $3.1 billion, once again by the same mystery bidder, rounds off a strange saga, which isn’t necessarily over.

“Straight Path Board determines that a revised offer from a Multi-National Telecommunications Company to acquire Straight Path for $184.00 per share constitutes a Superior Proposal,” the company said in a statement.

Verizon has been pinned as the mystery bidder according to a couple of sources (CNBC and Reuters), though the reason it is continuing to up the bid is unknown. Perhaps execs at the mystery bidder are getting an occasional nudge from Straight Path that an increased bid is on the way from AT&T. Upping the bid before AT&T can table a counter is a bit of a wind up move, but it would mean AT&T would have to start the process of finding a couple of extra hundred million from scratch.

Assuming the mystery bidder is in fact Verizon, you have to question whether it does actually want Straight Path, or if it is simply being awkward and just wants to stop AT&T from accessing the spectrum. It has previously stated that it does not need to buy any additional spectrum in the build up to 5G, though watching AT&T suffer might be a good enough reason.

Straight Path now has until May 10 to accept the offer, or coerce AT&T execs into parting with a bit more to acquire the valuable spectrum, which has already been approved by the FCC for 5G. The bidding war will certainly test the patience, and desperation, of AT&T, which has remained silent to this point.

Since April 6, and the beginning of the tale, the Straight Path Communications share price has shot up almost 500%. Not a bad month.

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