T-Mobile And Sprint Extends Merger Deadline As DOJ Expresses Uncertainty
Two of the largest telecommunications firms in the United States were expected to officially complete their long-planned merger this week. However, T-Mobile and Sprint announced that they will be extended their previously announced deadline to July 29. The announcement of the deadline extension comes at the heels of the US Justice Department's declaration that it has not yet decided on whether or not it will approve the US$26 billion deal.
The deadline extension was announced during T-Mobile's recent filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The third and fourth largest wireless network providers in the country have long been working on getting the approval of the US Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, but they have not yet gotten the green light. Sprint and T-Mobile had originally proposed the merger back in April of last year.
The head of the US Justice Department's Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, recently mentioned in a televised interview that the agency still actually hasn't decided if they would approve the deal or not. Delrahim revealed that they were still conducting meetings within their agency and with the telecommunications companies. The division is also still busy reviewing the deal to check if there aren't any possible issues with it once it gets approved.
It was also mentioned that the Antitrust Division was still waiting for additional data from both companies before they can move forward with the deliberation. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have argued that their merger will actually be beneficial to consumers as it would allow them to build a significantly better 5G infrastructure. The next generation wireless network would apparently be much faster and better overall if both companies were working on it as one entity.
Delrahim mentioned that they are still reviewing the proposal to see if both companies' argument are valid and if they need to suggest changes to the proposal. The agency still does not have a set timeline for approving the deal, but it did mention that will make sure that things are done properly, no matter how long that takes.
The 4Competition Coalition, which is a consumer advocacy coalition comprised of groups such as the Open Markets Institute, the Fight for the Future group, and the Communications Workers of America, had recently put out a statement in opposition of the merger. The group's statement mentioned both companies have so far failed to show that their merger is in the public's interest and that it complies with current antitrust laws. The coalition is calling on the country's regulators to block the merger.