The eSIM collusion probe that's presently said to be targeting Verizon and AT&T is bad news for T-Mobile and Sprint, i.e. their newly renewed merger talks, JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts believe, as reported by Bloomberg. Between the Department of Justice trying to block AT&T's proposed acquisition of Time Warner as part of an unprecedented antitrust push and the recently disclosed investigation into possibly illegal practices meant to make carrier switching more difficult for consumers, it appears that the United States government is cracking down on the wireless industry harder than ever. T-Mobile and Sprint could hence experience "higher scrutiny" if they have truly revived their merger talks earlier this month, the analysts wrote in a recent report.
Sprint and T-Mobile have been discussing a tie-up on three separate occasions over the last four years, with their latest talks ending after their parent companies Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank found themselves at a standstill, with both refusing to give up the control of a hypothetical entity that a consolidation would create. It's still unclear what changed in the last five months to prompt them to revive their talks, though the discussions themselves are still said to be in an early phase of development and aren't likely to progress in a significant manner until summer.
The concerns about the prospects of a merger attempt expressed by JPMorgan's industry watchers have already been raised earlier this month, with the current national consensus being that any tie-up attempt on the part of T-Mobile and Sprint would evolve into a prolonged affair subject to heavy scrutiny from numerous government agencies, including the DOJ, FCC, and the FTC. A merger would allow both companies to continue growing despite the increasingly saturated state of the U.S. wireless market and provide them with more consolidated financial firepower that would allow them to do a better job at matching the investments made by Verizon and AT&T, both of whom still have more subscribers than T-Mobile and Sprint combined.