Japan’s SoftBank Corp, owner of Sprint, is in talks to acquire U.S.-based wireless carrier T-Mobile, according to media reports. The deal is designed to have Sprint take the majority stake in T-Mobile, a Reuters’ source said.
T-Mobile is the No. 4 wireless carrier in the country, but the deal would let SoftBank “leapfrog” Verizon and AT&T into the No. 2 slot. The Reuters report cites unnamed sources — a common practice in merger and acquisition news. More from Reuters:
Sprint has been interested in combining with T-Mobile for years and top executives from both companies have said that consolidation was necessary in the U.S. wireless market, as cooperation in infrastructure and equipment orders would create a stronger rival against the two biggest players.
Both the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which turned down AT&T’s application to acquire T-Mobile in 2011 due to competition concerns, and the Justice Department chiefs have signalled they will take a hard line in scrutinising consolidation bids.
AT&T tried to purchase the Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile about two years ago before the U.S. Justice Department sued to stop the merger, citing the possibility of higher prices and poorer service for consumers. AT&T later withdrew its bid.
T-Mobile stock rose the day after news broke Christmas Day of the possible acquisition.