The Wall Street Journal reports that number three U.S. Wireless carrier Sprint is preparing a possible bid for number four carrier T-Mobile U.S. If the acquisition were permitted by Antitrust regulators, the resulting carrier would have 99 million customers.
The WSJ, via MacRumors:
Sprint is studying regulatory concerns and could launch a bid in the first half of next year, the people said. A deal could be worth more than $20 billion, depending on the size of any stake in T-Mobile that Sprint tries to buy.
Sprint hasn’t yet decided whether to move ahead with a bid. Going forward despite regulators’ concerns would be highly risky. Any pursuit of a bid by Sprint could be aimed at testing antitrust officials’ reaction to a deal, and a bad reaction could put an end to the effort.
T-Mobile U.S. currently operates under the T-Mobile, MetroPCS and GoSmart brands, and is the fourth-largest carrier in the United States with 45 million customers. Sprint is number three with 54 million subscribers. Their combined numbers would come close to equalling those of the top two U.S. carriers, Verizon and AT&T, who have 119 million, and 108 million customers respectively.
Sprint and T-Mobile have struggled to compete with their two larger competitors, which have much larger LTE networks.
It is not certain if a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would be permitted by regulators. When AT&T attempted to purchase T-Mobile U.S. in 2011, the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice both moved to block the acquisition.
The WSJ says Deutsche Telekom AG, the firm that owns approximately 67% of T-Mobile U.S., is looking to exit the U.S. market.