April 30, 2018
Wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint on Sunday announced they have entered into a merger agreement for an all-stock transaction. The $26 billion merger would reduce the U.S. wireless market to three major players and give Japan’s SoftBank (Sprint’s majority owner since 2012) a greater presence in the U.S. If approved, the newly combined company would keep the name T-Mobile, and would be run by current T-Mobile U.S. CEO John Legere and T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert. The $146 billion entity would be controlled by T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom.
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and SoftBank CEO and founder Masayoshi Son would serve on the board of the new company.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “The all-stock deal would see T-Mobile, which has a market value of $55 billion, take control of Sprint, which has a market value of $26 billion, both based on Friday’s closing prices. The two companies also have about $60 billion of combined net debt.”
“The transaction would create a giant with about 100 million customers that will be able to go toe-to-toe with AT&T and Verizon in the battle to dominate the next frontiers of wireless technology,” suggests The New York Times. However, the move is a risk for billionaire Masayoshi Son, who has been making significant moves into Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
“SoftBank owns 80 percent of Sprint, which is perhaps Mr. Son’s marquee American investment, but that control would be relinquished under the terms of the merger announced Sunday,” notes NYT. “SoftBank would own just 27 percent of the combined company.”
“Two previous attempts at merging the two companies have failed, most recently because the companies could not come to an agreement about control of the new entity; before that, because of regulatory scrutiny,” reports Recode.
“The long-rumored deal still has to get regulatory approval. Under the previous administration, former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler criticized the idea of two of the four major wireless carriers merging, expressing concern that fewer companies would be bad for consumers. His successor, Ajit Pai, has not drawn as hard a line in the past.”
According to the joint release, the merger would foster creation of a “nationwide 5G network with the breadth and depth needed to enable U.S. firms and entrepreneurs to continue to lead the world in the coming 5G era, as U.S. companies did in 4G. The new company will be able to light up a broad and deep 5G network faster than either company could separately.”
“This combination will create a fierce competitor with the network scale to deliver more for consumers and businesses in the form of lower prices, more innovation, and a second-to-none network experience — and do it all so much faster than either company could on its own,” said Legere. “As industry lines blur and we enter the 5G era, consumers and businesses need a company with the disruptive culture and capabilities to force positive change on their behalf.”
“Both Sprint and T-Mobile have similar DNA and have eliminated confusing rate plans, converging into one rate plan: Unlimited,” explained Claure. “We intend to bring this same competitive disruption as we look to build the world’s best 5G network that will make the U.S. a hotbed for innovation and will redefine the way consumers live and work across the U.S., including in rural America.”