Sprint is planning to proceed with a bid for US rival T-Mobile US in June or July, having met with banks to discuss funding for an offer, according to Bloomberg.
Sources said Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer and treasurer Greg Block met with six banks (Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Mizuho, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank) to determine whether they would be ready to provide funds if Sprint decides to pursue a bid.
No financing deals have been agreed, according to the sources, as SoftBank, which owns around 80 per cent of Sprint, is still looking at the best way to pay for the deal.
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son (pictured) confirmed his interest in a takeover of T-Mobile in a TV interview in March, noting that a merger would help Sprint gain the scale needed to better compete with US heavyweights Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
Son is looking to convince regulators that such a merger would be good for the long-term health of the US market. The SoftBank CEO has accused the big two operators – AT&T and Verizon Wireless – of running an effective duopoly in which prices are kept artificially high and innovation is thwarted.
US antitrust officials, however, have expressed doubt that a tie-up between Sprint and T-Mobile US would be given the green light.
William J. Baer, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division at the US Justice Department, told the New York Times in January that it would be difficult for any of the country’s top four mobile operators to win regulatory approval for a merger.
Baer said consolidation among the top four US operators would be difficult, particularly in light of the “much more favourable competitive conditions” since regulators blocked a merger between AT&T and T-Mobile in 2011.
Despite the potential obstacles to a deal, SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom, the majority shareholder of T-Mobile, are apparently discussing who should run the company if a deal is struck. Bloomberg sources said T-Mobile CEO John Legere is a strong contender.
Sprint is also believed to want to avoid agreeing to a high termination fee if the deal falls through.
AT&T paid a total of $6 billion to T-Mobile in cash and spectrum as a result of the failed merger between the companies in 2011. According to sources, Son believes this was a strategic mistake as it ultimately made T-Mobile a stronger competitor.