Merger speculation and rising stock prices continue for Sprint and T-Mobile

Merger speculation — and rising stock prices — continued Friday for Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc.

Several banks are putting together plans for financing should Sprint decide to make a bid for T-Mobile, The Wall Street Journal reported, using anonymous sources.

The sources said the financing offers could be ready in January. The report came a week after The Journal said that Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. wireless company, was researching antitrust issues and considering a bid for No. 4 T-Mobile in the first half of 2014.

Since the report a week ago, T-Mobile stock is up almost 22 percent, and Sprint’s is up nearly 21 percent. T-Mobile closed Friday at $31, up $1.39 a share, putting the company’s market value at nearly $25 billion. Sprint closed at $9.86, up 62 cents a share, putting its market value at almost $38.8 billion.

Masayoshi Son, the head of SoftBank Corp., which owns more than 80 percent of Sprint, was in New York on Thursday meeting with bank executives. The meeting was planned long ago and included Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs Group, one Journal source said.

SoftBank and Sprint are thought to be studying possible regulatory hurdles to a deal, at least as much as whether an acquisition would make financial sense. Executives of Sprint and T-Mobile have said that a combined company would be a stronger rival for Verizon Wireless and AT&T, which both are much bigger than Sprint and T-Mobile.

Deutsche Telekom owns about two-thirds of T-Mobile and has been making noises about getting out of the U.S. market.

It also was reported Thursday that Dish Network, which lost out to SoftBank in its efforts to acquire Sprint, was considering making a bid for T-Mobile. Dish wants to go beyond its satellite TV business and has acquired spectrum that a wireless communication company could use.