Sprint and T-Mobile call off merger after months of talks

T-Mobile Sprint merger may be saved with last minute compromise
SoftBank linked to Charter talks as doubts cast on Sprint/T-Mobile tie-up

06 November, 2017

Earlier this week, sources claimed SoftBank's board had made a decision to call off the Sprint-T-mobile merger, the reason being an inability to work out ownership terms with T-Mobile's Deutsche Telekom.

A united corporation would have had more than 130 million US subscribers, just behind Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and AT&T Inc (T.N). A merged T-Mobile-Sprint would have been a major challenger to number two AT&T, and could have given Verizon a run for the top spot in a few years.

The companies' unusual step of making a joint announcement on the canceled negotiations could indicate they still recognize the merits of a merger, keeping the door open for potential future talks.

The companies said they ended talks after they were "unable to find mutually agreeable terms".

T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere spoke with Sprint Chief Executive Marcelo Claure on Wednesday, after a T-Mobile board meeting in NY where directors agreed to renew their overtures to Sprint to keep the deal alive, the report said. "However, we have agreed that it is best to move forward on our own", according to Sprint president and CEO and Softbank Board member Marcelo Claure.

"To really take the kind of next step from a business that has been stabilized to a business that has been growing is going to require a new more intense investment phase", Mark Stodden, telecom analyst at Moody's, said about Sprint.

Sprint has a lot of debt and has posted a string of annual losses. The company has also badgered rivals with its unlimited data plans.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that T-Mobile and its parent company Deutsche Telekom have tweaked their offer, though the exact terms remain unclear.

Deutsche Telekom, which has toyed with options for its USA business for years, put a courageous face on the unravelling of the deal on Saturday night, saying T-Mobile would continue its successful growth strategy. Both companies may have to sort that out sooner rather than later.

T-Mobile reported revenues in the third quarter that topped $10 billion for the first time, up 8 percent.

An added wrinkle was Sprint's negotiations with cable companies Comcast Corp and Charter Communications Inc.

It's possible that the two sides will come to an agreement within weeks, claims today's report.

But some investors wonder whether the best years may now be behind T-Mobile, whose shares have risen ninefold from the low they hit after the global financial crisis to a peak of $68 in June. It seemed this most recent deal was doomed to failure, as well.

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