Sprint parent company SoftBank is preparing to kill negotiations for a merger with T-Mobile US after failing to come to terms with Deutsche Telekom, Nikkei Asian Review reported.
SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom had reportedly come to a tentative integration agreement, but could not agree on which company would retain control of the merged entity. Deutsche Telekom wanted to manage the combined company, but SoftBank’s board indicated Friday (27 October) it would not relinquish control, the report stated.
Nikkei Asian Review said SoftBank could move ahead with a suggestion to part ways as early as Tuesday, though a brief contradictory report from CNBC on Monday indicated SoftBank is planning to stick with negotiations. The Wall Street Journal issued its own report corroborating the claims made by Nikkei Asian Review’s sources.
In September, reports from multiple sources indicated Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank were pursuing a stock-for-stock deal, and were in the process of finalising logistical details. Both T-Mobile and Sprint skipped their traditional third quarter earnings calls to avoid merger chatter, but a deal was widely expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Battle for control
However, Nikkei Asian Review‘s report chimes with previous indicators there would be a showdown for control of the merged company.
In June, German newspaper Handelsblatt wrote Deutsche Telekom aimed to take control of the combined operator. CNBC followed up with a report in September noting SoftBank wanted to retain a say in how the business would be run.
Aside from internal disagreements, the potential deal also would have faced regulatory hurdles at the US Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission. Those agencies notably killed a proposed $39 billion merger between AT&T and T-Mobile in 2011. Market research company MoffettNathanson predicted the odds of a T-Mobile-Sprint merger receiving regulatory approval at 50:50.
News of the breakdown played out in interesting ways across the US stock market. Predictably, T-Mobile and Sprint shares both tumbled in response to the report Monday afternoon. Shares of fellow US operators Verizon and AT&T also dropped, but shares in satellite operator Dish, which like Sprint holds a hoard of spectrum and was previously floated as a merger option, jumped.
In a research note issued in September, BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk explained the appeal of Dish is it offers an operator like T-Mobile the chance to acquire more spectrum without the “baggage” which would come with a Sprint merger.
Seeking Alpha on Monday pointed out cell tower companies also got a boost from the news at the prospect of four carriers remaining in the US market.