T-Mobile, Sprint home in on merger deal - Mobile World Live

T-Mobile, Sprint home in on merger deal

22 SEP 2017

Now Sprint turned its full attention back to T-Mobile US, it seems the pair are finally closing in on a long-anticipated merger deal.

Citing people familiar with the negotiations, Reuters reported the companies are nearing a tentative agreement. The arrangement would give T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom a majority stake in the combined entity, with Sprint’s owner SoftBank set to retain a 40 per cent to 50 per cent share in the business.

The news comes as T-Mobile CEO John Legere (pictured) and other company executives visit Prague for Deutsche Telekom’s annual board meeting.

While a deal is expected to be pinned down by end-October, risks remain: due diligence is yet to be conducted and MoffettNathanson analysts estimated odds the tie-up will be approved by US regulators at 50:50.

This is the second round of merger talks for Sprint and T-Mobile. In 2014, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son sought to acquire T-Mobile, but abandoned the attempt amid pushback from US regulators. Son had reason to believe they would follow through to block the deal. Three years earlier, the Department of Justice, under President Obama, put the kibosh on a $39 billion merger deal between AT&T and T-Mobile.

Renewed merger talks between Sprint and T-Mobile reportedly began in earnest in 2016, but progress was slow as Sprint shopped itself around to others – including US cable giants Charter and Comcast.

If a deal does finally go through, Jennifer Fritzsche, MD of the Equities Research Group at Wells Fargo Securities, noted T-Mobile’s newly won 600MHz spectrum could be a coverage boon for Sprint.

Post-transaction, Fritzsche said T-Mobile might turn to redundancies in towers and backhaul to achieve cost savings, but said US tower companies shouldn’t worry.

“In almost every M&A transaction the wireless sector has seen (exception being MetroPCS/T-Mobile) – the number of cell site additions have outnumbered the number of sites decommissioned post close,” she wrote in a research note.

Author

Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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