In short: CenturyLink CFO Sunit Patel is leaving the telecom firm for T-Mobile where he'll be in charge of the company's efforts to merge with Sprint. Mr. Patel's new role will be that of an Executive Vice President, Merger and Integration Lead, with his employment officially starting on Monday, October 1. The industry veteran will report directly to T-Mobile President and COO Mike Sievert, the wireless carrier confirmed. Mr. Sievert said the new EVP will have "a tremendous impact on shaping the new T-Mobile," suggesting he wasn't hired solely for the purpose of helping the Bellevue-based company navigate the complicated consolidation.
Background: Mr. Patel's appointment was still at least partially prompted by the fact he already played a crucial role in another major telecom tie-up in the United States – that of Level 3 Communications and CenturyLink which was completed last year. The long-term telecom executive also contributed to some significant M&A activity on the part of Level 3, including its purchase of wireless carrier Global Crossing. T-Mobile and Sprint announced their intentions to merge in late April, proposing an all-stock deal valued at roughly $26.5 billion that would see T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom take a controlling stake in the combined entity, whereas SoftBank would cede its complete control of Sprint in exchange for a more favorable position in the stateside wireless market. T-Mobile and Sprint are predicting their tie-up proposal will be officially greenlit by the FCC and DOJ in the first half of 2019, a timeline that some industry watchers previously deemed optimistic.
Impact: While Mr. Patel has experience with navigating the intricacies of U.S. antitrust law, it's unlikely that his appointment will affect the chances of T-Mobile and Sprint's merger being approved. The FCC's review period is still on pause, the pressure from select advocates and rivals for the deal to be blocked or significantly altered is mounting, and the duo's views of the industry continue to change, hurting their credibility.