Published: Wed, April 11, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Mobile and Sprint reportedly in merger talks once again

Mobile and Sprint reportedly in merger talks once again

T-Mobile and Sprint are the Ross and Rachel of the business world - they need to just get together already.

T-Mobile and Sprint, now the third- and fourth-largest telecom companies in America, have tried to merge twice.

Sprint and T-Mobile US have restarted merger talks, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter, marking another attempt to combine the No. 4 and No. 3 USA wireless providers. The two wireless carriers have reportedly rekindled discussions, and even though investors have been through this before, more than once, and have been burned when no deal materialized, that didn't stop them from buying up both stocks when the news broke on Tuesday afternoon.

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Following the report, Sprint shares are up more than 6 percent.

There are a number of reasons to doubt the prospects of a deal. Japan's SoftBank owns 85% of Sprint; the company's founder and CEO, Masayoshi Son, was reluctant previous year to give up a large chunk of the carrier in any deal with T-Mobile. This would give Sprint's Japanese owner, SoftBank, and T-Mobile's German owner, Deutsche Telekom, an excellent position in the American market. We can see what happens when you have three equally sized wireless players by looking at Canada.

Indeed, T-Mobile executives have publicly expressed regret that the carrier hasn't been able to ink a merger with Sprint.

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The deal would unite two of the nation's largest service providers to increase competition for Verizon Communications Inc.

The current situations of T-Mobile and Sprint aren't terribly different from what they were last fall.

Despite supporting the repeal of Net Neutrality in favor of less regulation, the Trump administration and the FCC have ironically opposed this merger. Will T-Mobile and Sprint finally exchange wedding vows?

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Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering deals, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., media and telecommunications.

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