The will-they-won’t-they tension has always been high between romantic comedy leads T-Mobile and Sprint, but could their flirtatious ways finally be heading for a serious relationship? That certainly looks to be the next plot twist, as the companies are reportedly in “active talks” about a merger.
Sprint’s parent company, Japanese telecom giant SoftBank, has been looking to grow its U.S. presence ever since investing in Sprint, and T-Mobile’s European overlords at Deutsche Telekom have been trying to marry off their bratty magenta-loving offspring to nice, wealthy American company for years.
Now, CNBC reports that SoftBank and DT have once again entered into talks about a possible deal combining the No. 3 and No. 4 wireless providers.
The sources caution, as they often do, that no deal is certain, and that any possible finalized plan wouldn’t come to fruition for several more weeks. The current talks, the insiders tells CNBC, concern creating a term sheet that would dictate the possible deal.
Just what a combined T-Mobile/Sprint company would look like is up for speculation.
CNBC theorizes that SoftBank would likely take a minority stake in any marriage, while T-Mobile John Legere would probably position himself as the new venture’s head honcho.
Of course, the real question we’re all wondering is, would the new company have a cool celebrity tabloid mashup name? Perhaps SprinT-Mobile, or T-Mobrint?
Heard It Before
Getting a sense of déjà vu? That’s probably because Sprint and T-Mobile have long been the center of merger speculation.
Rumors of a thawing romance between the companies ramped up in May, when SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said he still intended to pursue a merger, and that T-Mobile USA is the most likely target.
A week later T-Mobile executives declared that the companies would likely make a good pair… financially. Chief Financial Officer Braxton Carter explained at a conference that it would be cheaper for them to invest in deploying a 5G network in the future together.
Additionally, with a combined force, the wireless providers could better compete with Verizon Wireless and AT&T, though even a merged Sprint/T-Mobile would likely still be smaller than either of those two companies.
Despite the recent talks and speculation, we’ve been down this road before, and it’s only led to broken hearts.
In Aug. 2014, Sprint’s board pulled the plug on its decision to pursue T-Mobile after early talks with regulators at the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice confirmed that approving such a merger would be politely described as an uphill battle.
And T-Mobile is no stranger to being left at the altar. In 2011, AT&T tried to sweep little ol’ T-Mo off its feet, but the wedding was doomed when federal regulators refused to give their blessing to the marriage. At least T-Mobile got a few billion dollars in cash and wireless spectrum from AT&T for its troubles.