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US: Regulators close to approving T-Mobile-Sprint merger

 |  July 22, 2019

The long-running proposed US$26 billion T-Mobile-Sprint merger is close to getting a go-ahead from federal regulators.

The US Justice Department’s Antitrust Chief Makan Delrahim’s scheduled testimony before the Senate’s Atitrust Subcommittee on Tuesday, July 23, was canceled on Saturday, July 20. The move shows the deal is about to close, insiders told Fox Business.

The proposed merger has had a long and tumultuous history since an agreement was first reached in April 2018.

The Federal Communications Commission originally signed off on the merger while the US Justice Department’s antitrust unit asked the agency to prevent the merger from going forward until the Department of Justice (DOJ) makes a decision.

The DOJ had threatened to file a lawsuit to block the merger if Sprint and T-Mobile didn’t reach a settlement by the week of July 23.

The DOJ previously stated it wanted Sprint and T-Mobile to sell off assets before the merger could be approved. T-Mobile sold Dish and is allowing it to use the merged companies’ network for six or seven years before it has to build its own. T-Mobile wants to give up as little as possible so that it doesn’t make Dish too good of a rival, and the DOJ wanted to ensure Dish gets enough assets so that it can compete.

In June, a group of US state attorneys general filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York to block the merger, arguing that the proposed US$26 billion deal would cost consumers more than US$4.5 billion annually. They warned that consumer prices will jump due to reduced competition.

The T-Mobile and Sprint merger means the US wireless market would be dominated by three national players, putting the new company second to Verizon and ahead of AT&T.

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