T-Mobile, Sprint Meet FCC Chairman Over $26.5B Merger

Chief Executive Officers of T-Mobile and Sprint met with the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai earlier this week in order to hold preliminary talks over their proposed merger. The trio gathered on Tuesday, with the two wireless carriers being expected to officially file consolidation paperwork with the FCC by the end of the month. The deal would see T-Mobile acquire Sprint for approximately $26.5 billion as part of an all-stock transaction which would merge the third- and fourth-largest mobile service provider in the United States, putting the combined entity within striking distance of AT&T and Verizon in terms of subscribers and overall scale.

Sprint's outgoing CEO Marcelo Claure and T-Mobile chief John Legere also met with representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice last week, albeit their current contacts with stateside regulators are still limited as the actual federal reviews of their proposed tie-up are yet to start. The Federal Trade Commission is also expected to investigate the attempted merger on its own. T-Mobile and Sprint claim their horizontal consolidation would create more competition than it would remove, primarily in the context of 5G, with the duo asserting that only combined are they able to ensure rapid large-scale deployment of the fifth generation of mobile networks throughout the U.S. The two firms hence expect the consolidation to create more jobs and generate approximately $43 billion in synergies.

The DOJ's current policies aren't favorable toward big business mergers, with the regulator presently even trying to block AT&T's $85.6 billion acquisition of Time Warner despite the fact that the move wouldn't take out any competition from the economy, thus being targeted by a largely unprecedented lawsuit. T-Mobile and Sprint's merger is hence conceptually a much tougher sell and the main reason why most analysts are giving the consolidation a 50-50 chance of being approved. The two telecom giants are hoping to have the deal greenlit in the first half of 2019, a timeline that many industry watchers deem highly optimistic.

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