T-Mobile and Sprint Are Cleared to Merge as the Big Get Bigger
A bigger-is-better mentality has swept the tech and media industries over the past 18 months, as companies have spent $200 billion on a series of megamergers that have reshaped the American business landscape.
The Trump administration has mostly been a cheerleader for the corporate supersizing. And on Tuesday a federal judge ruled in favor of T-Mobile’s planned takeover of Sprint.
The long-in-the-works merger would combine the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers, creating a telecommunications giant to take on AT&T and Verizon. The new company, to be called T-Mobile, would have about 100 million customers.
The deal has come about as digital technology has woven itself into the fabric of daily life, changing how people use their phones and forcing wireless carriers, television networks and movie studios to move away from the analog systems that once dominated the entertainment and communications industries.
In the ruling on Tuesday, Judge Victor Marrero of United States District Court in Manhattan rejected an unorthodox challenge to the deal led by attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia.
The suit was brought in June after regulators at the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission approved the merger plan. The states argued that the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint would reduce competition, lead to higher cellphone bills and place a financial burden on lower-income customers.
Their arguments did not sway the judge. He praised T-Mobile in his ruling, calling it “a maverick that has spurred the two largest players in its industry to make numerous pro-consumer changes” and describing its business strategy as “undeniably successful.”
The merger, which T-Mobile and Sprint hope to close by April 1, would be the latest in a wave of corporate deals. In June 2018, AT&T’s bid to buy Time Warner was approved, giving the phone giant control of CNN, HBO, and the Warner Bros. film and TV studios. Shortly afterward, the Walt Disney Company beat out Comcast to buy the majority of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox empire. Late last year, Shari Redstone combined her family’s two businesses, CBS and Viacom.
The new T-Mobile would be a formidable rival to AT&T and Verizon, the two largest wireless carriers in the country.