T-Mobile US Inc. is buying Mint Mobile, the budget wireless provider part-owned by actor Ryan Reynolds, for as much as $1.35 billion in an effort to bolster its prepaid phone business and reach more lower-income customers.
The second-largest U.S. wireless provider is acquiring Mint’s closely held parent company, Ka’ena Corp., with a combination of 39 percent cash and 61 percent stock, according to a statement. The ultimate purchase price will be based on Mint reaching certain performance goals, both before and after the transaction closes. The sale talks were first reported by Bloomberg News in January.
Reynolds, who owns an undisclosed but “significant” stake in Mint, will continue to make commercial appearances on the company’s behalf, co-founder David Glickman said in an interview, adding the actor has incentives to “continue for years.” Glickman and his partner Rizwan Kassim will join T-Mobile and manage the business, which includes Ultra Mobile, an international phone service.
Mint offers some of the country’s lowest priced mobile plans, starting at $15 a month for 4 gigabytes of wireless data. The companies didn’t disclose Mint’s subscriber count. Its annual subscriber growth over the past four years has been 50 percent, and revenue growth has been 70 percent or more a year, Glickman said.
The business has no stores, and sells phones and mobile plans entirely online. The service is provided by T-Mobile already as part of a wholesale network-sharing agreement.
“Mint’s formula works, the brand is growing fast and we can pour more fuel onto that by leveraging buying power for phones and marketing,” said Mike Katz, president of marketing for T-Mobile. The Bellevue, Washington-based carrier also operates its own prepaid brand called Metro.
The pay-as-you-go market is seen as a source of overall subscriber growth as credit-challenged customers are eventually pulled into regular monthly billings. Mint competes with other prepaid phone brands, including Cricket from AT&T Inc., Total from Verizon Communications Inc. and Boost Mobile from Dish Network Corp.
T-Mobile expects the deal to close later this year and doesn’t anticipate any changes to its 2023 financial outlook. Mint will be “slightly accretive’ to adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
Reynolds, a pitchman and co-owner of Aviation Gin, sold that brand to Diageo Plc in 2020 for $610 million, with nearly half that potential payment based on sales performance over 10 years. The actor, known for his work in the superhero series Deadpool, met Glickman through their joint work with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Reynolds also co-owns the Welsh soccer team Wrexham AFC, which has been featured in a documentary series on the FX network.
“We are so happy T-Mobile beat out an aggressive last-minute bid from my mom Tammy Reynolds as we believe the excellence of their 5G network will provide a better strategic fit than my mom’s slightly-above-average mahjong skills,” Reynolds joked in the statement.