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Report: SoftBank, DT close to deal on Sprint, T-Mobile merger

o Stephen Lawson
24.12.2013 kl 21:40 | IDG News Service\San Francisco Bureau

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and German carrier Deutsche Telekom are close to a deal that would merge T-Mobile US with Sprint, eliminating one of the four major mobile competitors in the U.S., according to the Nikkei news agency.

 

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and German carrier Deutsche Telekom are close to a deal that would merge T-Mobile US with Sprint, eliminating one of the four major mobile competitors in the U.S., according to the Nikkei news agency.

SoftBank would pay more than 2 trillion yen (US$19 billion) for a stake of up to 70 percent in T-Mobile, which is the fourth-largest mobile operator in the U.S., Nikkei said, citing unnamed sources. SoftBank already owns a majority of Sprint, the country's third-largest carrier. T-Mobile is majority owned by Deutsche Telekom.

The Wall Street Journal had reported earlier this month that Sprint was studying regulatory concerns about such a deal and might make an offer for T-Mobile in the first half of next year. The Nikkei story, posted on Wednesday in Japan, said the parent companies of Sprint and T-Mobile were in the final stages of talks on a possible deal. SoftBank might make its offer as early as spring 2014, Nikkei said, roughly matching the earlier report on timing.

A $19 billion price tag for T-Mobile would nearly equal the $21.6 billion that SoftBank paid for 78 percent of Sprint earlier this year.

Combining Sprint and T-Mobile would create a carrier with nearly 100 million customers, close to subscriber parity with AT&T and Verizon Wireless, each of which has more than 100 million. However, U.S. regulators might block such a transaction in order to preserve competition in the nation's wireless industry. When the government shot down AT&T's proposed takeover of T-Mobile in 2011, some regulators cited the need to keep four major rivals in the market.

T-Mobile has proved a scrappy competitor since emerging from the failed AT&T deal. In the past year, in a successful bid to make gains against its bigger rivals, the company has introduced new service and device-purchase plans that other U.S. carriers have emulated.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Keywords: Mobile  Telecommunication  Business Issues  
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