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Deutsche Telekom to merge U.S. ops with MetroPCS

FRANKFURT, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom and MetroPCS agreed to merge their operations in the United States, leading to an impairment charge of at least 7 billion euros ($9 billion) for Telekom in a move that might allow the company to exit the U.S. wireless market.

Deutsche Telekom will hold 74 percent and MetroPCS 26 percent in the combined entity, Deutsche Telekom said in a statement on Wednesday, confirming a report from German paper Financial Times Deutschland.

The plan comes less than a year after U.S. antitrust regulators quashed Telekom's plan to sell T-Mobile USA, the fourth-largest U.S. mobile service provider, to AT&T Inc , the second-largest, for $39 billion.

Once Telekom's strongest growth engine, T-Mobile USA has been losing customers to bigger and smaller rivals in recent years, partly because it is not authorized to sell the Apple iPhone.

($1 = 0.7731 euros)

(Reporting By Peter Dinkloh and Harro Ten Wolde)

((peter.dinkloh@thomsonreuters.com)(+49 69 7565 1345)(Reuters Messaging: peter.dinkloh.thomsonreuters.com@thomsonreuters.net))

Keywords: DEUTSCHETELEKOM METROPCS