Here goes another round of will-they-or-won’t-they: Reuters is reporting that Sprint parent company SoftBank is again preparing to approach Deutsche Telekom about a T-Mobile merger. Rather than talks of acquiring T-Mobile, this time it appears SoftBank is willing to “give up control” of Sprint, preparing to sell most of the company to Deutsche Telekom in order to merge the two wireless carriers. Sources told Reuters that the two companies are expected to start negotiations around April.
Rumors of the merger have been around since at least 2013 when SoftBank initially talked about buying T-Mobile. But Sprint abandoned the plans as FCC regulators at the time would have made it difficult for the deal to pass. Under the new Trump administration, however, rumors resurged, with T-Mobile CEO John Legere most recently saying that a merger would be a “potential outcome” at this past CES. Other major corporations, such as AT&T and Time Warner, are similarly expecting large mergers to be approved by the now Ajit Pai-led FCC.
The Reuters report says that SoftBank, which owns about 83 percent of Sprint, has been frustrated with lack of growth in the United States. This week, after Verizon announced the return of unlimited data plans, Sprint was forced to follow suit to stay competitive with T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T.
SoftBank and T-Mobile both declined to comment.