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Sprint and T-Mobile shares plunge after reportedly abandoning merger plans

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 7:38pm

MONEY-sprint-t-mobile-2-Image(s) Available (Originally Published: 8/5/2014 7:48 PM)

Update 8:28 p.m. ET- new information throughout
Sprint and T-Mobile shares plunge after reportedly abandoning merger plans

By James O'Toole

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Sprint and T-Mobile may not be getting together after all.

Shares of the two companies plunged in after-hours trading Tuesday after The Wall Street Journal reported Sprint had given up an attempt to acquire its fellow mobile carrier.

The deal would have united the nation's third- and fourth-largest wireless companies into a combined entity with a subscriber total to rival that of industry leaders AT&T and Verizon.

Such a deal would have drawn a lengthy review from federal antitrust officials, who have the power to nix merger agreements. Sprint cited this regulatory challenge in explaining its decision to abandon the T-Mobile deal, the Journal reported, citing an anonymous source.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, reported late Tuesday that Sprint plans to announce a new CEO to replace current chief executive Dan Hesse.

Representatives for both companies declined to comment.

Sprint now faces the task of charting a new path forward to compete in the U.S. wireless market. Masayoshi Son, CEO of Sprint parent SoftBank, calls the U.S. wireless industry a duopoly, and expressed doubts earlier this year that either Sprint or T-Mobile can compete going forward without joining forces.

T-Mobile, meanwhile, may find another suitor. The company's shares surged last week on news that it had received a $15 billion takeover offer from French telecom company Iliad.

Iliad would be less likely than Sprint to face antitrust challenges given that it has no footprint in the U.S. at present.
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