Charter Communications isn't interested in acquiring Sprint despite the fact that the fourth largest mobile service provider in the United States is said to have already proposed a merger with the cable company or is planning to do so shortly, sources with knowledge of the matter said on Sunday. Sprint's parent SoftBank has been in talks with Charter and Comcast for over two months now, trying to negotiate a new wireless partnership, but the three parties are still somewhat away from reaching a deal, recent reports indicate. It's currently unclear why the Japanese conglomerate favors a merger with the cable firm over that with T-Mobile, a competitor whose user base and technology would likely prove to be more immediately beneficial for the Overland Park, Kansas-based wireless carrier. Regardless, sources familiar with the matter claim that SoftBank Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son is still willing to discuss a potential consolidation with the Deutsche Telekom-owned mobile service provider.
Some industry watchers believe that Sprint wasn't expecting its merger proposal to be accepted by Comcast at all and instead opted for the move in an attempt to gain more leverage in its negotiations with T-Mobile that already started in an unofficial capacity earlier this year before being put on hold for two months after Sprint agreed to a two-month exclusivity period of talks with Comcast and Charter. In a statement provided to Reuters on Sunday, a Charter spokesperson confirmed that the cable giant has "no interest" in becoming a majority owner of the wireless carrier but didn't elaborate on the matter. The official did state that Charter's mobile service ambitions are still being pursued, saying that the Stamford, Connecticut-based firm remains adamant to launch a wireless service in 2018. Both Charter and Comcast already have a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal with Verizon Communications, though recent reports suggested that Sprint would be willing to offer more favorable terms to the two companies.
Even if Charter and Sprint were interested in a merger, they'd need to acquire approval for such a deal from Comcast, as per a recently signed collaboration agreement between the two cable service providers, which some industry analysts believe isn't likely to happen. Sprint is expected to continue pursuing its M&A ambitions in the coming months as the company is looking to make its highly leveraged business more sustainable in the long term.