Report: T-Mobile, Sprint close to merger agreement

Report: T-Mobile, Sprint close to merger agreement

T-Mobile and Sprint are close to an agreement on a major wireless merger, Reuters reported on Friday.

The deal would revive an effort that was abandoned in 2014 amid tough regulatory hurdles under President Obama. The Trump administration since January has signaled a much more lenient approach to antitrust enforcement.

According to the Reuters report, the majority of shares in the combined company would be held by T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom, while 40 percent to 50 percent would be controlled by SoftBank, the Japanese firm behind Sprint.

The report said that a deal could be announced by the end of October.

The move would reduce the number of major wireless carriers in the U.S. from four to three, a shift that would have been met with stiff resistance under the Obama administration. But Trump-era regulators seem much more receptive to industry consolidation.

The combined company would have more than 130 million subscribers and revenues topping $70 billion.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who will likely have an outsized role in approving the merger, said in an interview earlier this year that he is keeping an open mind about the wireless market.

“I don’t think any regulator who embraces regulatory humility and intellectual honesty about economics can say whether three or four or five is the optimal number,” he told Recode in May. “What I do want to see is a competitive wireless marketplace. We’ll see what happens, if a transaction is presented before us.”