Deals and IPOs

DOJ antitrust chief isn't ruling out T-Mobile/Sprint merger

Brian Kaberline
T-Mobile CEO John Legere (L) speaks as Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure looks on at the New York Stock Exchange, April 30, 2018.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

An official who could have a big say in whether Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. can merge is keeping an open mind.

Makan Delrahim, who heads antitrust efforts for the U.S. Department of Justice, said he doesn't see reducing the number of major wireless carriers from four to three as inherently bad for the market, Bloomberg reports.

"I don't think there's any magical number that I'm smart enough to glean about any single market," Delrahim told reporters on Friday.

Antitrust concerns are seen as one of the biggest potential hurdles for the proposed $26.5 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The carriers control 18 percent and 14 percent, respectively of the market. Together, their market share edges out Verizon Wireless's 31 percent share and trails only AT&T's 36 percent share.

Bad vibes from federal officials during the Obama administration were cited as the reason Sprint pulled back on an earlier effort to acquire T-Mobile. And while the Trump administration is seen as potentially more open to a merger, its court battle to stop an $85 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner has given mixed signals.

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