T-Mobile US and Sprint are in active talks regarding a stock-for-stock merger CNBC reports, citing people familiar with the situation. Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank Group Corp of Japan, the operators’ respective parent companies, are said to have held ‘frequent conversations’ regarding the tie-up in recent weeks, and the German telecoms giant is expected to emerge as the majority owner of the new business. As such, if the merger comes to fruition T-Mobile CEO John Legere is expected to lead the enlarged company, although Softbank owner Masayoshi Son has made it clear that he wants a say in how the company is run. The sources have stressed that negotiators are still weeks away from finalising a deal, and the two sides have not yet set an exchange ratio for a deal. Further, T-Mobile has not begun due diligence on Sprint, a factor that could change current price expectations or indeed the willingness to move forward.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, back in June 2014 Sprint unveiled a USD32 billion (USD40 per share) offer for T-Mobile US. The deal, which would have seen T-Mobile US retain a roughly 15% to 20% stake in the combined company, was eventually abandoned by SoftBank, after a hostile reception from the US authorities. It remains unclear as to how the combination would be viewed by the Trump Administration, although new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai is widely viewed as more ‘business-friendly’ than his predecessor, Tom Wheeler.