T-Mobile and Sprint will wait to close their multibillion-dollar merger until a lawsuit from over a dozen state attorneys general is resolved, T-Mobile’s chief operating officer Mike Sievert said on the company’s earnings call today.
Sievert’s admission came only a few short hours after the Justice Department announced its approval of the deal after months of negotiations to create a fourth viable wireless competitor through Dish Network. But the two carriers still face one last challenge in court before officially creating The New T-Mobile: more than a dozen state attorneys general are suing to block the deal.
“Our intention is not to close while the litigation is ongoing,” Sievert said.
The group of attorneys general, led by New York AG Letitia James and California AG Xavier Becerra, raised concerns that the merger still isn’t in the best interest of consumers. The compromise of a government-created competitor in Dish Network didn’t impress James.
“The promises made by Dish and T-Mobile in this deal are the kinds of promises only robust competition can guarantee,” James said. “We have serious concerns that cobbling together this new fourth mobile player, with the government picking winners and losers, will not address the merger’s harm to consumers, workers, and innovation.”
In light of the new details announced today, the attorneys general are hoping to reschedule their trial date. Originally, it was for this fall. A judge will hear their motion on August 1st; James declined to comment on when they hope to reschedule.
The Justice Department spent the night before the merger announcement attempting to quell the states’ concerns. After discussions with officials, five states — including Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota — agreed to settle instead of continuing to pursue litigation. In a press call earlier today, James declined to comment on the states deciding to settle with the DOJ.
“A marketplace with fewer active competitors drives up costs, reduces consumer choice and thwarts innovation,” Becerra said. “We intend to be prepared to go to trial to fight for a fair, competitive, and equitable marketplace for consumers nationwide.”