Regulators aren’t done reviewing the deal
T-Mobile (TMUS) and Sprint (S) have extended the deadline of their merger agreement, which they reached more than a year ago. The companies now expect to close the transaction by July 29, 2019. They’d previously set the deadline at April 29, 2019, but that didn’t work, as antitrust regulators hadn’t completed their review of the merger proposal to decide whether to block or greenlight it.
Although T-Mobile and Sprint have argued that their merger would help the United States to lead in the race to build nationwide 5G networks, the merger agreement has drawn opposition on several fronts. Besides labor unions, Dish Network (DISH) and Altice USA (ATUS) have also urged regulators to consider blocking the transaction, saying that it would destroy jobs and stifle competition in the wireless market. Both Dish and Altice are planning to enter the wireless market.
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Wireless operators struggle to secure merger approvals
For T-Mobile, the delay in the approval of its merger agreement with Sprint is a reminder that mergers involving major wireless companies can take a long time to clear regulatory hurdles. AT&T (T), one of America’s top wireless providers, waited more than a year to close the deal to purchase Time Warner for $85 billion. Even after that, AT&T fought a government attempt to reverse the transaction for several months.
T-Mobile closed the first quarter with 81.3 million subscribers on its wireless network, marking the first time the company had crossed the 80 million subscriber mark.