The proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint finally got approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The $26.5 billion deal should have been at the final stage, but the companies are facing a lawsuit from several states, over anti-competition fears. T-Mobile and Sprint are the third and fourth largest US wireless carriers, and several states including New York, are concerned about the ramifications for consumers. The US Justice Department on the other hand, was happy with the deal, provided Sprint sold its prepaid businesses. As a result, Sprint will sell Boost Mobile to Dish Network Corp and grant it access to 20,000 cell sites plus other benefits, thus parting with $5 billion. However, this was not enough to assuage state attorneys.
Following the announcement by the FCC, T-Mobile’s chief executive John Legere got on a conference call with analysts. “We have a lot of the leaders that recognize the benefits of this transaction will deliver for consumers in their state and beyond. Now, as you know, the state AG trial is set to begin on Dec. 9. In the meantime, we continue to be open to and are having many discussions with the state AGs. We now expect the merger will be permitted to close in early 2020.”
T-Mobile and Sprint’s parent company, SoftBank Group, had hoped the deal would be finalised at the end of this year. Legere and his team have been able to get some states to drop charges by negotiating state-specific deals. “So we feel very good about the conversations [with states] and where they’re headed,” Legere added. “And we feel very good and confident either in the process of a settlement or even going to trial and having the case seen well.”