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Sprint-SoftBank merger cleared by the Department of Justice

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Sprint store (STOCK)
Sprint store (STOCK)

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has cleared the proposed merger of Sprint and Japanese carrier SoftBank, which will allow the FCC to make its final decision on the deal. Back in January, the DoJ asked the FCC to hold off approving the merger until it had adequately examined the proposed deal. In a letter to the FCC yesterday, the DoJ said that it had adequately reviewed the application, and "analyzed the measures undertaken by the applicants to address potential national security, law enforcement, and public safety issues, including supply chain issues." Based on this analysis, it has no objection to the deal.

The merger still has a way to go before being sealed. The deal still requires FCC approval, and could also be sabotaged by a pair of rival bids. Dish Network has launched two bids in recent months, one to merge with Sprint, and another to buy Clearwire, which Sprint is also attempting to buy. Sprint already owns half of Clearwire, and its spectrum represents a huge asset to whichever company ends up owning it outright. As if the situation wasn't confusing enough, a report from Reuters yesterday suggested that SoftBank was already holding talks with T-Mobile US' German owners to purchase the carrier if the Sprint deal falls through.