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Sprint, T-Mobile US's on-again off-again merger talks are now off

Neither could figure out how to pull it off, but that hasn't stopped SoftBank from buying more of Sprint

Updated US carriers Sprint and T-Mobile have decided their on-again, off-again merger is off.

The companies have been rumoured to have considered a merger since 2013. In September 2017 reportable rumours bubbled to the surface, but Japanese outlets last week reported that Sprint's parent SoftBank had gone cold on the deal.

That report was correct: the two companies have issued a joint statement killing the deal.

T-Mobile's president and CEO John Legere's canned quotes suggest that while a merger would likely have been beneficial, he was not satisfied it was the best option for shareholders.

Sprint president and CEO, and Softbank board member, Marcelo Claure said the benefits of scale were on offer, but that the two companies couldn't agree on how to combine.

Both companies declare they will therefore pursue their current strategies, which involve painting AT&T and Verizon as the real enemy and innovating to make them look old and slow.

But both of the behemoths are well ahead of their junior rivals. Verizon has ~145m US subscribers, AT&T has around 135m. T-Mobile and Sprint have around 58m apiece, so even if they had combined they would have achiever lesser scale than the competition.

US consumers will therefore have to struggle on with two behemoths and two smaller challengers chasing their business. The real loser? The lawyers and accountants spared the chance to work on a whale of a deal. ®

Updated to add

The day after the merger was called off, SoftBank announced it "intends to increase its stake in Sprint Corporation through open market transactions or otherwise."

SoftBank won't buy the whole company: a statement sent to El Reg says the company "does not intend to increase its ownership of Sprint outstanding common stock to 85% or more as a result of these purchases."

Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO and president, said he wants more of Sprint to take advantage of the increasing number of connected things that will need a carrier.

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