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Sprint and T-Mobile end merger talks, saying they couldn't reach an agreement

A woman talks on her phone as she walks past T-mobile and Sprint wireless stores in New York.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
A woman talks on her phone as she walks past T-mobile and Sprint wireless stores in New York.

Talks between Sprint and T-Mobile over a possible blockbuster merger have come to a halt, both companies announced on Saturday, ending weeks of discussions that had the potential to reconfigure the mobile industry.

The two carriers have been huddled for weeks, but reports suggested talks hit several hurdles. In what was seen as a last-ditch bid to salvage a merger, both sides came together this weekend.

If consummated, a Sprint-T-Mobile deal would have created a mobile behemoth of more than 100 million subscribers, and put them within reach of Verizon and AT&T, the industry's top dogs. T-Mobile and Sprint are the U.S.' third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers, respectively, but they are significantly smaller than AT&T and Verizon.

"The prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons, including the potential to create significant benefits for consumers and value for shareholders," said John Legere, President and CEO of T-Mobile U.S., in a statement.

"However, we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile's shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record," he added.

Last week, reports surfaced that SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that controls Sprint, was planning to end talks with T-Mobile, whose parent is Deutsche Telekom.

"While we couldn't reach an agreement to combine our companies, we certainly recognize the benefits of scale through a potential combination. However, we have agreed that it is best to move forward on our own," Sprint president and CEO and Softbank Board member Marcelo Claure said.

Deutsche Telekom representatives were believed to be visiting SoftBank's Masa Son this weekend, sources told CNBC, but differences between the two camps could not be bridged.

--CNBC's David Faber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.