Editor in Chief
- Jan 5, 2011
Despite worries that U.S. regulators will "poo poo" the merger, the deal for Sprint to buy T-Mobile now looks a great deal closer to reality than ever before. Apparently, Deutsche Telekom has been in direct talks to sell their 67% stake in T-Mobile to Softbank (Sprint's majority owner). This is an almost sneaky way for this deal to push through as there are far fewer regulatory hurdles to jump through to make it happen. It will be much tougher for any U.S. governmental agency to stop the sale of a majority ownership from one non-American company to another non-American company.
To be clear, just because this is a back door way to push this deal through, does not mean there aren't ways for the FCC and/or the Department of Justice to stymy the deal. Things simply get a great deal more complicated than before. Regardless, it seems obvious now that Softbank's Chairman, Chairman Masayoshi Son is very serious about the T-Mo buyout, and it is also apparent that Deutsche Telekom wants to dump their stake in T-Mobile. Here's a quote with a few more details,
Sources familiar with the Softbank-Deutsche Telekom talks said any deal would depend on whether they can persuade regulators to change their minds.
The two sides have been chipping away at other issues.
One possibility is for Deutsche Telekom to retain a roughly 15 percent in T-Mobile US as part of a deal, the sources said. That would help reduce the size of the equity check that Sprint has to write for T-Mobile US, while giving Deutsche Telekom the chance to benefit from potential synergies from the merger, they said.
Deutsche Telekom may also be more accommodating with Softbank regarding a break-up fee than it was with AT&T, the sources said. That is because T-Mobile is likely to be the surviving brand and its CEO, John Legere, is likely to lead the new combined company, thus avoiding a loss of subscribers and momentum it had to contend with during the drawn out regulatory process with AT&T, two of the sources said.
It's also interesting to note that Sprint has been courting banks to raise upwards of $50 Billion dollars for this deal. This is obviously substantially more than the failed T-Mobile and AT&T merger from two years ago, which was valued at $36 Billion. This makes sense considering how much traction T-Mobile's Uncarrier initiative has made in the U.S. mobile landscape.