AT&T CFO “doesn't think” that the Sprint and T-Mobile merger is possible

AT&T CFO “doesn't think” that the Sprint and T-Mobile merger is possible

AT&T's Chief Marketing Officer,John Stephens, took the opportunity to comment on Sprint's apparent intent to acquire T-Mobile, USA's fourth largest carrier. Stephens saidthat AT&T has pushed for industry consolidation in the past,because of increasing data demands and capital requirements toupgrade networks amidst the shrinkage of available spectrum. However,he expressed skepticism towards the possibility of a Sprint/T-Mobilemerger, perhaps owing to AT&T's failed attempt to acquire T-Mo in2011. Due to regulatory disapproval, the $39 billion proposedtakeover crashed and burned. It ended with T-Mobile receiving $1 billion worth ofAT&T spectrum, while $3 billion was paid to Deutsche Telecom(T-mo's owners) in a "break-up fee". Having played and lostthis tricky game before, Stephens said that "it would besurprising" if the federal regulators decided to change theirminds and approve the deal. "I don't think they will." -added the CFO.

On the other side of the spectrum,Masayoshi Son - CEO of SoftBank, the Japanese company which ownsSprint, is full of enthusiasm about the merger. He said that theconsolidation has the potential to bring a "massive price war"and ignite healthy competition in the US market. But the regulators'response so far has only reaffirmed Stephens' skepticism. SoftBankand Sprint's meetings with the DOJ and FCC made it clear that USofficials prefer the current status quo of four large carriers, eventhough 75% of the US wireless market is spread between Verizon andAT&T. It's possible that the regulators would like to see whetherthe growing "Un-carrier" will manage to even out customerdistribution on its own in the coming years. Meanwhile, Son believesthat a merger with Sprint is the only way to challenge theVerizon-AT&T duopoly, and has already raised financing for themerger from a number of American banks. Being wary of paying a hugebreak-up fee, Son won't be quick to announce SoftBank's intentions,but he believes that the deal "must be given a shot".

The AT&T CFO is also skepticalabout the carrier's business prospects in Europe. He confessed that"the window of opportunity on owning assets in Europe may beclosing". This uncertainty could be attributed to the company'srecent discouragement of acquiring Vodafone in Britain. For now, itseems that AT&T, jokingly referred to as the "Death Star",will retain its focus on the US side of the planet.

via FierceWireless

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