French low-cost telecoms operator Iliad has abandoned its attempt to buy T-Mobile US because of resistance from majority owner Deutsche Telekom.
It now becomes the third bidder to walk away from the carrier in three years.
While Iliad's approach had been widely perceived as a long shot, its formal withdrawal sent shares of the US carrier to a 10-month low. The move came three months after Sprint dropped its own bid to buy T-Mobile.
Now T-Mobile, which had been gaining market share thanks to aggressive marketing tactics, will face new questions about whether it can continue to prosper as an independent entity.
A person familiar with Deutsche Telekom's thinking said the group preferred to keep its US business longer since it was unconvinced that Iliad, as a newcomer to the US market, could run the business better than its current management.
T-Mobile US and Deutsche Telekom, which owns 66% of the business, declined to comment.
Iliad said it would now "continue its profitable growth policy as it has been conducted over the last 15 years."
It had set a mid-October deadline to decide whether to improve its $33 a share bid for 56.6% of the fourth-biggest mobile phone network operator in the US.
The low-cost telecoms operator said it had formed a consortium with two "leading private equity funds" to bid for 67% of T-Mobile US at $36 per share including cost savings.
Deutsche Telekom believes it is better off waiting to see if deals with the likes of Sprint or satellite TV provider Dish Network become possible under a different US administration with a more favourable view on consolidation, the person said.
Deutsche Telekom, which makes about a third of its sales and a fifth of core profit in the US, has tried to sell T-Mobile twice since late 2011 because it sees it as too small to compete with market leaders Verizon and AT&T.
Regulators rejected AT&T's $39 billion bid for T-Mobile US three years ago.