A new report from CNBC suggests that Sprint parent company SoftBank Group is considering giving up Sprint to Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile in order to facilitate a merger between the two wireless carriers.
According to sources familiar with the matter, SoftBank Group has not yet approached Deutsche Telekom because the FCC has imposed anti-collusion rules between the rivals, thanks to a current auction for airwaves. The sources state that once the auction is over in April, the two companies will begin merger negotiations.
This isn’t the first time that SoftBank has flirted with the idea of merging Sprint and T-Mobile, as a little less than three years ago the company abandoned an effort to acquire T-Mobile as opposition from anti-trust regulators became apparent. In that deal, SoftBank would have gained a majority ownership of T-Mobile, with Deutsche Telekom retaining a minority stake.
Now that T-Mobile is profitable and has actually inspired changes in the US wireless carrier landscape, Deutsche Telekom is no longer willing to part with the company, so sources say SoftBank will have to take a different approach this time.