Softbank may sacrifice Sprint to lure Legere – report

Rumours of Softbank’s potential acquisition of T-Mobile have surfaced once again, after a report claimed the Japanese telco is prepared to offload Sprint in an effort to seduce Legere and co.

A deal between Softbank and Deutsche Telekom has been whirling around the rumour mill for years, though should the latest claim turn out to be true it would certainly be a tick in John Legere’s box. According to Reuter’s sources, Softbank is now prepared to surrender control of its Sprint stake, which currently stands at about 83%, to remove any complications in any future transaction. Softbank has not yet begun any discussions with Deutsche Telekom due to the fact the FCC bans any such consolidation activities during any auction of airwaves.

Reports of such a deal broke out during 2014 in a proposed deal which have put Softbank in control of the merged company, with Deutsche Telekom becoming a minority shareholder. Softbank eventually walked away from the deal due to opposition from US regulators.

At the time, T-Mobile US had a market value of roughly $30 billion but since that point it has overtaken Sprint as the number three in the US market share rankings, taking its current value to more than $50 billion. Contrary to the healthy growth from T-Mobile US, Sprint is currently worth in the region of $36 billion, pretty much the same as in 2014.

While both parties only found frustration at the negotiating table back in 2014, thanks mainly due to the meddling of US regulators, new bureaucrats would appear to be more open to market movement and consolidation. New FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, has made several statements in recent weeks which would seem to suggest a Trump-leaning FCC would be more open to such transactions.

It may be difficult to predict how the regulators would take to such a deal, even if Softbank divest its interests in Sprint, as some antitrust advisors to the Trump administration are yet to be appointed.

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