Sprint Owner Softbank Still Dreams Of Buying T-Mobile

It doesn’t matter that T-Mobile CEO John Legere said two years ago that he’s heard enough merger talk: the CEO of Softbank, the Japanese company that owns 80% of competitor Sprint, is still interested in buying the carrier. He’s happy to wait until the time is right.

The right time means waiting for a few things to happen. First, Bloomberg speculates, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son is waiting for the next U.S. president take office, then name his or her choice for chair of the Federal Communications Commission.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler notably said that the U.S. needs four carriers for things to stay competitive, and it’s hard to imagine what the state of the mobile phone market would be if not for T-Mobile’s influential moves like getting rid of phone subsidies and giving away pizza. Well, maybe not the pizza.

The FCC has the power to send a proposed merger to an administrative hearing, which could drag on for so long that it might be better to simply not bother in the first place if regulators seem unfriendly to a merger.

Experts note that Sprint would need to be in worse shape financially for a merger to go through easily. Otherwise, an FCC friendly to the idea might consider blessing the merger if it would mean a third large carrier that serves as a viable competitor to the two largest mobile carriers in the U.S., AT&T and Verizon.

The most likely merger partner for T-Mobile may not be another mobile phone company, anyway. AT&T acquired DirecTV, and Comcast was one rumored suitor for T-Mobile.

Sprint Owner Is Said to Still Hold Out Hope for a T-Mobile Deal [Bloomberg]

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