NEW YORK -- T-Mobile has another suitor on its hands. Upstart French telecom company Iliad on Thursday said it has offered $15 billion for a majority stake in the fourth-largest U.S. cellphone company.

Iliad is injecting itself into the courtship of T-Mobile and Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. cellphone carrier. Sprint has reportedly been in talks with T-Mobile for months, but no deal has been announced. Analysts believe U.S. regulators are likely to block the T-Mobile/Sprint pairing due to concerns that it would reduce competition and thus raise prices for consumers.

Iliad is much smaller than T-Mobile, and it doesn't have the financial might to buy the whole company. It's offering $15 billion in cash for 57 percent of T-Mobile, at $33 per share. T-Mobile didn't immediately comment on the report. Iliad said it did not have a response from T-Mobile's board.

T-Mobile shares jumped $2.07, or 6.7 percent, to $33.01 after Iliad's announcement, indicating that investors believe there's some chance of an improved offer, either from Iliad or Sprint.

T-Mobile is controlled by Deutsche Telekom of Germany, which owns 67 percent of the stock. A similar portion of Sprint's stock is owned by Softbank of Japan.

Iliad noted that its offer would not raise the same antitrust concerns that come with a Sprint deal, and that Iliad and T-Mobile are both industry mavericks. Under CEO John Legere, T-Mobile has thrown out the standard two-year service contract and introduced new plans that allow for more frequent phone upgrades, a move quickly copied by the larger carriers. Iliad broke onto the French scene with the Freebox, a unit that combines Internet access, TV and phone service over broadband lines. In 2012, it started offering cellphone service as well.


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Iliad has 5.7 million broadband subscribers and 8.6 million wireless subscribers. T-Mobile has 50.5 million subscribers on its wireless network.