Official judge ruling means T-Mobile/Sprint merger is (almost) a done deal

Official judge ruling means T-Mobile/Sprint merger is (almost) a done deal
It's been a long and bumpy road, but almost two whole years after entering into an agreement designed to change the status quo of the US wireless industry for good, T-Mobile and Sprint are cleared at last to become one "new" and powerful carrier.

Even though the "Un-carrier" and the "Now Network" obtained regulatory approvals from the US Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission way back in July and October 2019 respectively, perhaps the hardest challenge proved to be a lawsuit filed by a number of Democratic state AGs.

The actual trial only lasted two weeks and concluded before Christmas, but US District Court Judge Victor Marrero took plenty of time to consider his verdict. The decision is now made, and because an appeal seems unlikely, there's officially nothing little stopping T-Mobile and Sprint from uniting their forces (aka customer bases and spectrum) in the fight against Verizon and AT&T.

A huge victory for the merger of the century

Unsurprisingly, T-Mobile and Sprint have started their celebration dance shortly after receiving a favorable New York Federal Court verdict, thanking the Court for its "thorough review of the facts we presented in our case" and declaring this a "BIG win and a BIG day for the New T-Mobile."

While the two cellular companies, which are owned by Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank respectively, can now "FINALLY focus on the last steps to get this merger done", it's obvious from the way their joint press statement is phrased (and even titled) that this is still not a 100 percent done deal.

Although T-Mobile and Sprint don't seem willing to elaborate on the "final steps" and efforts required to complete the $26.5 billion merger once and for all, we know a federal judge in Washington also has to give his blessing in what was initially considered a routine review of the DoJ's approval process. The Department of Justice has been accused by the Plaintiff States in the trial supervised by Judge Marrero of green-lighting the deal between T-Mobile and Sprint after "only a cursory examination of the approval conditions."

Recommended Stories
Before America's "big four" carriers can consolidate into a big three group with a much stronger third player, T-Mobile and Sprint are highlighting their combination remains "subject to certain closing conditions, including possible additional court proceedings, and satisfactory resolution of outstanding business issues among the parties."

Will the financial terms of the deal be renegotiated at the last minute?

You don't have to be very fluent in legalese to guess what those "outstanding business issues" are probably about. After all, it's been a long time since the $26.5 billion agreement was reached, and plenty of things have changed in the US wireless landscape in the past 12 months alone.

While T-Mobile has managed to break record after record in terms of customer gains, launching a somewhat controversial 5G nationwide network and making Verizon go on the advertising offensive for a change, Sprint continues to bleed money and subscribers, looking destined to end up in a pretty desperate situation without a new owner.

It's therefore not surprising to hear rumors of a renegotiation possibly taking place in the eleventh hour, with T-Mobile most likely pursuing a significant price cut. Although T-Mo badly needs to seal the deal once and for all too, as Sprint's mid-band spectrum is essential for its next stage of 5G development, the smaller carrier may not have enough leverage to resist a renegotiation in Magenta's favor.

At the end of the day, it remains essentially impossible to predict when the mother of all wireless mergers will be finalized, but T-Mobile thinks that could happen "as early as April 1, 2020." If it does, it's going to be one awesome parting gift for John Legere, who just so happens to be officially scheduled to pass the CEO baton to current COO Mike Sievert on April 30.

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless