SoftBank Group Corp, the majority shareholder of US cellco Sprint, has confirmed that it will seek talks to merge the loss-making US mobile business with larger rival T-Mobile US, as owner Masayoshi Son looks to trigger a new wave of consolidation within the US telecoms sector. Bloomberg quotes Son as saying: ‘Basically anything is possible. But I think the number one favourite – the quickest route to synergy – is the option that we pursued from the start: T-Mobile … However, it is also up to the other side and whatever conditions they may have. Therefore, if there are other opportunities for industry consolidation that offer better conditions, of course we want to consider them with an open mind.’
TeleGeography notes that the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) so-called ‘quiet period’ – which required US telecoms operators to avoid negotiating mergers and acquisitions for the duration of the recently concluded 600MHz Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction – was lifted at the end of last month. Previously, in June 2014 Sprint unveiled a USD32 billion (USD40 per share) offer for T-Mobile US. The deal, which would have seen T-Mobile US retain a roughly 15% to 20% stake in the combined company, was eventually abandoned by SoftBank, after a hostile reception from the US authorities. It remains unclear as to how the combination would be viewed by the Trump Administration, although new FCC chairman Ajit Pai is widely viewed as more business-friendly than his predecessor, Tom Wheeler.