Sprint CFO Tarek Robiatti made a clarifying statement that the company's recently announced mutual benefit deal with cable company Altice USA would have happened with or without the proposed merger with T-Mobile failing. According to Robiatti, the deal that Sprint struck with Altice represents value and benefit for both companies involved, and that would not have changed with a merger with T-Mobile on the table. He did acknowledge that the deal with Altice will not bring the two companies quite as much value and synergy opportunity as a T-Mobile merger would have, but it was still more than enough to be worthwhile, regardless of anything else going on with Sprint at the time.
The announcement of a deal with Altice USA came this morning, as Sprint stock was dinged significantly by news that T-Mobile had walked away from merger talks. While it could be quite easy to assume that Sprint moved forward on the Altice deal because of T-Mobile backing down, it's just as easy to assume that Sprint announced the Altice deal with the timing that it did in order to mitigate the stock damage wrought by the T-Mobile merger falling through. Robiatti disclaimed the former idea but did not disclaim the latter. Though there is no official word from Sprint on why it timed the announcement the way that it did, this theory is not only plausible but quite likely.
The deal in question is one built upon mutual benefit, with no mention of money trading hands in Sprint's press release. Altice USA, a major nationwide cable company with international operations that include wireless service in all of its territories except the US and Israel, would grant Sprint subleasing of its spectrum licenses. In return, Sprint allows Altice USA to launch a wireless service using Sprint's network. The mutual benefit here is quite apparent. Sprint gets extra spectrum to use in its ongoing multi-modal 5G buildout, making it easier to use the right solutions for the right markets and not be restricted by Sprint's own spectrum portfolio. Altice USA, meanwhile, gets to not only launch a wireless service, but pass the benefits of the improvements that it's helping Sprint to make on to its customers.