SoftBank wants merger talks between T-Mobile US, Sprint

3:20 pm JST							Soft Bank annual profit up 13% on better performance by Sprint

Son made it clear in his remarks that the fourth-place carrier was in play and that his first choice was for a deal with T-Mobile.

While Mr. Son said he planned to devote much of his time to the fund, leaving SoftBank's core businesses to deputies, he said would take charge of USA negotiations seeking ways to combine resources at Sprint with those of other carriers to meet rising network costs.

Oft-cited as a potential merger partner for Sprint, T-Mobile was once again identified as SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son's favored merger partner during his company's earnings conference call this week, the Financial Times reported (sub. req.).

T-Mobile, the third-largest United States wireless carrier, is seen as the potential kingmaker as companies including Sprint, Dish and Comcast weigh their options. Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile ever commented publicly about the rumors at the time.

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"But I think the No. 1 favorite, the quickest route to synergy, is the option that we pursued from the start - T-Mobile", Son told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday. However, it's also up to the other side and whatever conditions they may have. While Sprint didn't say whether its entire network would be running by then, T-Mobile says that it will have regional service that same year, with nationwide coverage in 2020. "Clearly T-Mobile-and its ostensible new owner SoftBank-see a big opportunity to differentiate themselves from AT&T and Verizon in the U.S.by positioning their services as mobile 5G, versus the fixed 5G "cable replacement" use cases the big two have been talking about as their initial 5G product".

T-Mobile US is a cash cow for the German telecom service operator, which owns 64 percent of the USA mobile carrier. T-Mobile, meanwhile, is the fastest-growing wireless carrier in the USA, using promotions, price cuts and social-media marketing to lure customers from Verizon and AT&T.

T-Mobile's John Legere. Image source: T-Mobile.

Ultimately, mergers are tough, particularly at this scale, and few companies do them well, said Enderle.

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Sprint's news met with immediate skepticism, mostly for the absence of technical specs.

Since the previous talks, T-Mobile has overtaken its rival to become the No. 3 USA wireless carrier and SoftBank is now prepared to cede control to clinch a deal, people familiar with the matter told Reuters in February.

"What we do know is that both [companies] are too small to really compete with AT&T and Verizon, even though T-Mobile has shown that turnarounds are possible at this size.", he said.

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