SoftBank willing to cede control of Sprint to entice T-Mobile February 17, 2017Donations for BreakingNews24: https://goo.gl/U4NIYB Thank You So Much For All Your Donations So Far.Japan's SoftBank Group Corp is prepared to give up control of Sprint Corp to Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile US Inc to clinch a merger of the two U.S. wireless carriers, according to people familiar with the matter.SoftBank has not yet approached Deutsche Telekom to discuss any deal because the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has imposed strict anti-collusion rules that ban discussions between rivals during an ongoing auction of airwaves.After the auction ends in April, the two parties are expected to begin negotiations, the sources told Reuters this week.ADVERTISINGinRead invented by TeadsTwo and a half years ago, SoftBank abandoned talks to acquire T-Mobile for Sprint amid opposition from U.S. antitrust regulators. That deal would have seen Deutsche Telekom retain a minority stake in T-Mobile, down from about 65 percent.Deutsche Telekom Chief Executive Tim Hoettges has said in recent months that the German company is no longer willing to part with T-Mobile, prompting SoftBank to explore a new strategy to achieve a potential combination, the people said.SoftBank, which owns about 83 percent of Sprint, has been frustrated with its inability to grow significantly in the United States on its own, where both Sprint and T-Mobile have struggled to compete with Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc, the two largest U.S. carriers with much deeper pockets.Investors have said a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, ranked third and fourth respectively, would still face antitrust challenges, but made strategic sense as the industry moves to fifth-generation wireless technology. Carriers will need to spend billions of dollars to upgrade to 5G networks that promise to be 10 times to 100 times faster than current speeds.While SoftBank is still open to discussing other options, it is now willing to surrender control of Sprint and retain a minority stake in a merger with T-Mobile, the sources said. They asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.SoftBank, Sprint, Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile all declined to comment."We may buy, we may sell. Maybe a simple merger, we may be dealing with T-Mobile, we may be dealing with totally different people, different company," SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son told analysts on the company's latest quarterly earnings call earlier this month. With the advent of 5G, Deutsche Telekom may receive offers for T-Mobile from other U.S. companies, such as DISH Network Corp and Comcast Corp. Sprint could also be an acquisition target for other companies, the sources said.Dish declined to comment and Comcast did not immediately respond to a request for comment.DISCOUNTING PLANSReuters could not determine how much of a premium SoftBank may want Deutsche Telekom to pay for control of Sprint, which has a current market valuation of $36 billion.T-Mobile's market value stands at $50 billion, which is about $20 billion higher than when it was last in merger talks with Sprint in 2014.While Sprint's market value has changed little since then, T-Mobile has overtaken Sprint as the No. 3 wireless customer in terms of numbers of subscribers. T-Mobile said it had 71.5 million total customers while Sprint had 59.5 million at the end of 2016.T-Mobile is now almost as big as Deutsche Telekom's German business. "We are not in the mood of selling the business," Hoettges told investors last November.Under John Legere, its combative, T-shirt wearing chief executive, T-Mobile has rolled out unlimited data plans and international roaming packages. Combined with aggressive marketing, this has boosted T-Mobile customer base at the expense of its rivals.While Sprint has also been growing its customer base as of late and improving its financials under CEO Marcelo Claure, it has done so primarily through heavy discounting. Despite new investment, the company's network is still viewed by many consumers as weaker than its rivals.
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