Speculation about a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint heated up again Tuesday with word that the wireless carriers had agreed that T-Mobile’s executive team would be in control of combined operations.
Bloomberg and CNBC reported the essence of the proposed merger in stories with unnamed sources who they said were close to the negotiations. A deal is still expected to be weeks away and its completion is not assured, both news outlets said.
Sprint, based in Overland Park, is the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier, and T-Mobile is the third-largest and fastest-growing. Sprint last month announced its first quarterly profit in three years.
A Sprint spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the media reports.
The two corporations have reportedly agreed that Deutsche Telekom AG, which owns about 64 percent of T-Mobile, would place T-Mobile’s executive team in charge of a combined company. But Sprint’s largest shareholder, SoftBank Group Corp., would remain a large minority holder.
The Star has previously reported that senior executives of Sprint and T-Mobile had arranged for golden parachutes worth nearly $359 million. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure’s is more than $130 million.
T-Mobile’s CEO is John Legere.
SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son has indicated a willingness to sell Sprint to T-Mobile. Still in question is whether a merger would be approved by the Department of Justice.
Son’s comment elaborated on a similar statement by Claure, who had said a decision about Sprint’s future could come in the near future.
“We’ve had enough conversations to start making choices soon,” Claure had said after Sprint announced its quarterly profit.
Claure has said publicly that a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would make the strongest deal in terms of benefits and costs savings. He said other transactions without T-Mobile also would strengthen Sprint and that the company could continue on its own.
Analysts have questioned whether federal officials would agree to a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. Son had pushed for a possible deal in 2014 before giving up on the plan when President Barack Obama’s administration made clear it was not interested.
Expectations are that President Donald Trump’s administration would look at a merger more favorably, though the president’s decision-makers are not fully in place. He has nominated Makan Delrahim to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division, but Delrahim has not been confirmed by the Senate.
T-Mobile and Sprint stocks both rose Tuesday morning on the renewed merger speculation.
The Star’s Mark Davis contributed to this report.