Sprint and T-Mobile merger talks are starting again
Japan's SoftBank Corp Group may have renewed interest in combining its Sprint Corp with Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile US Inc, but a deal between the No. 3 and No. 4 USA wireless carriers may not make it past USA regulators, antitrust experts and industry watchers said.SoftBank is prepared to give up control of Sprint to T-Mobile, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.
SoftBank hasn't approached Deutsche Telekom yet, the report says, because the Federal Communications Commission had banned discussions among rivals during an ongoing wireless spectrum auction. Once the auction ends, though, it's expected that SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom will begin negotiations about a possible deal. SoftBank had tried to purchase T-Mobile after they picked up Sprint, back in 2014. The merger was denied by US lawmakers and Softbank set its eyes on making Sprint a profitable and viable third-place carrier with plans to move on AT&T and Verizon's dominance. Now were hearing about another shakeup that could be coming down the line - a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile.
Currently, SoftBank owns 83% of Sprint, and they could give a controlling stake of that over to Deutsche Telekom if they were able to make a deal to merge the third and fourth largest carriers in the US.
RBC Capital, in a January 29 research note, said the Department of Justice would still veto a Sprint-T-Mobile deal.
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At the time, US antitrust officials reportedly told Sprint that having four national carriers in the United States was important to maintaining a competitive market. T-Mobile also spiked almost 5 percent. Lead by colorful and irreverent CEO John Legere, T-Mobile has carved out a niche as a carrier that is willing to take on Verizon and AT&T with attractive pricing, fun promotions, and innovative plans (which are often later copied by the competition).
This would be the second time Softbank has made an effort to acquire T-Mobile.
While both companies declined any official comment to CNBC, Softbank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son told analysts in February, "We may buy, we may sell".
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