After a lengthy legal battle, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger approval is seemingly all but official.
Industry sources claim a federal court in charge of the high-profile case already informed the duo about its decision.
The two companies reportedly learned about the ruling behind closed doors. However, the official announcement of the tie-up's approval will ostensibly follow later today.
What's less clear is whether the two telecom giants will be pressured into even more concessions as part of the ruling. Even so, this turn of events is undoubtedly a win in T-Mobile and Sprint's eyes. Most of their shareholders seemingly share that sentiment, as well.
The third- and fourth-largest telecom provider in the U.S. announced their consolidation in 2018. They subsequently attempted to wrap it up by mid-2019 but the federal government had different ideas.
Even though the Trump administration seems to be more friendly to big businesses than the preceding government, it still opposed the proposed merger. Cue a messy legal battle that few expected.
An approval only Sprint and T-Mobile can celebrate
Regardless of how the two spin it, the controversial merger is arguably a net loss for consumers. In the long term, fewer rivals lead to poorer service and higher prices. Particularly so in an already competition-poor market like wireless. After all, regional monopolies have been an issue in the U.S. telecom market for years now.
Be that as it may, the federal court system obviously isn't as concerned for American consumers like some industry watchers are. Despite likely disastrous consequences for the prepaid market, the tie-up valued at $26 billion will now presumably be going through almost immediately.
The court approval that's reportedly all but official is the final piece of this consolidation puzzle. Namely, T-Mobile and Sprint already secured other regulatory green lights last year.
The worst-case scenario is still at least three years from starting. That's because the two wireless giants promised not to up their existing rates in that period as part of their merger negotiations with regulators.
Needless to say, that's not a massive source of solace for consumer advocacy groups that have been opposing this deal from day one.
It's still unclear how long Sprint and T-Mobile will take to fully combine their infrastructures. They did have nearly two years to discuss those proceedings, so it's unlikely they'll waste a lot of time. After all, shareholders aren't a patient bunch and that's the only demographic this merger ultimately aims to please.