Remember when Sprint and T-Mobile were in talks to merge? That could still happen, if Softbank Group Corp.’s CEO has his way.
CEO Masayoshi Son has a 300-year plan to build a sprawling business empire that would “endure through the centuries,” according to anonymous sources who spoke to Bloomberg. Softbank, which purchased Sprint in 2012, attempted to merge Sprint and T-Mobile in 2014, but the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice voiced their opposition to the deal. The Japanese company recently purchased British chipmaker ARM.
FCC chairmen customarily resign when a new president takes office. That means current Chairman Tom Wheeler may resign when the next president takes office — and that’s important because the FCC has the ability to send a proposed deal to an administrative hearing, which according to Bloomberg is what caused Son to drop plans for the merger. It’s also why Comcast dropped its bid to purchase Time Warner Cable.
Wheeler and most Democrats believe four carriers are crucial in providing competitive services and prices. Son would have to show that having three top wireless carriers is better than four. To that end, he could point to Softbank’s 2006 acquisition of Vodafone’s Japan unit, which now competes with the top two operators.
T-Mobile has grown rapidly in the past two years, and while Sprint has continued to lose subscribers for several years, things have started slowly looking up under the reign of CEO Marcelo Claure. That’s not good news for Son, as he would have to show officials that Sprint is in jeopardy in order to win a deal to merge with T-Mobile.
No talks are currently in place — that’s because of the current spectrum auction set to continue until early 2017.