February 11, 2020
The T-Mobile/Sprint merger has been approved.
Almost two years after the carriers agreed to merge — and after much regulatory scrutiny — the merger looks set to go ahead, forming what will be the second-largest carrier in the U.S.
- The Department of Justice approved the deal in July of last year, but a group of state attorneys general brought forward a lawsuit to block the merger, claiming it would lead to higher prices. On Tuesday, a federal judge rejected that suit, approving the takeover (though New York and California AGs indicated they may appeal).
- The decision was something of a surprise for investors: In recent months, shares in Sprint have consistently traded below the deal's value as investors expected the merger to be quashed. On news of the approval, Sprint's shares jumped by over 70%.
- It's a major win for SoftBank, Sprint's majority shareholder. Dish Network is another beneficiary: As part of the DOJ's approval, Sprint has to sell some of its brands and cellular spectrum to Dish, in an effort to keep four competitive carriers in the market.
- But not everyone's pleased. Gigi Sohn, distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law and Policy, and former special counsel at the Federal Communications Commission, said: "In the end, consumers will be the losers … this decision will inevitably open the floodgates to combinations as bad or worse than the one approved today."