Earlier this week, the Swiss global financial services firm UBS sent a note to investors detailing its observations regarding the likely changes the US wireless service and Pay TV industry will go through under the incoming Trump administration. In short, UBS believes that the next executive branch of the US government is bound to change the approval process for mergers and acquisitions, in addition to reshaping the country's tax policy and its regulation of the wireless service industry in general. Not surprisingly, UBS thinks that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) will be significantly less strict when it comes to regulating big businesses once the new administration takes office next year.
As noted by the Swiss-based firm, the incoming departure of the FCC's current chairman Tom Wheeler is "music to the industry's ears," as any Trump-appointed chairman will likely be much more lenient towards wireless carriers, as well as cable and satellite service providers. UBS points out that Ajit Pai, the most likely replacement for Wheeler, and Jeffrey Eisenach, an advisor appointed by Trump to help transition the FCC have both advocated for restricting the Commission's jurisdiction in the past. In addition to that, any new head of Antitrust at the DOJ appointed by Trump will certainly look more favorably at potential mergers and acquisitions in the wireless industry, UBS' analyst John Hodulik states.
As a result, Hodulik concludes that further convergence of cable and wireless service providers is almost a given once the new administration takes office. In his report, the said analyst gave a few examples of possible mergers between wireless carriers like Verizon and Sprint and cable companies such as Comcast. Interestingly enough, Hodulik mostly described all of his theoretical consolidations as ultimately positive for investors. That isn't to say he believes a merger between Verizon and Sprint or T-Mobile and Dish would have no downsides, but in most hypothetical scenarios he outlined, the positives seemingly outweigh the negatives. You can download Hodulik's latest industry forecast by following the source link below.
Theoretical scenarios aside, this memo makes no mention of the likelihood of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner being approved by the US government. That's mildly interesting given how all other indications referred to in the forecast suggest that the incoming Trump administration won't stand in the way of this merger. In any case, only time will tell how the new regulatory landscape will impact the wireless industry in the US, but one thing is certain – major changes are on the horizon.