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T-Mobile and Sprint merger to go ahead in the US

By Marianne Curphey

T-Mobile’s $26bn takeover of Sprint approved, paving the way for companies' 5G plans

A merger between two of America’s biggest mobile operators is has been given the go ahead to proceed. T-Mobile’s $26bn (£20bn, €23bn) takeover of Sprint has reportedly been approved by US District Judge Victor Marrero, marking the end of a long and protracted saga.

A lawsuit filed in June by the Attorney Generals of 13 states and the District of Columbia had hoped to block the merger on competition grounds.

The deal, which brings together the third and fourth largest operators in the US, had been opposed amid fears that it would reduce competition and increase prices. The four biggest networks in the US have 98 per cent of all customers.

The move is strategically important for T-Mobile as it will enhance its 5G wireless technology offering. Shares in both companies rose today in anticipation of the news, which had been widely expected.

The merger is a win for SoftBank, which has supported Sprint over nearly ten years, and for owner Deutsche Telekom AG, owner of T-Mobile. Talks around a merger started and stalled five years ago, and were revived two years ago.

The ruling, which will be published later today, was the final legal obstacle between T-Mobile and the smaller, ailing Sprint finalising their merger. Antitrust officials at the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice have already signed off their agreement to the deal.

The new company will be called T-Mobile and have 80 million customers. This puts it in the same league as AT&T, with 75 million subscribers, and Verizon, which dominates with 114 million subscribers. T-Mobile CEO John Legere is expected to step down from his role.

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