T-Mobile and Sprint have come out on top in their merger trial.
Following rumors last night that he had decided to approve the deal, Judge Victor Marrero today officially submitted his ruling in the trial. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, the judge says that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger is not likely to lessen competition like the 14 state attorneys general who sued to block the deal claim it will.
Judge Marrero also rejected the state AGs’ argument that Sprint could continue to be competitive without the merger. According to the judge (via CNBC), Sprint “does not have a sustainable long-term competitive strategy” and will cease to be a truly national carrier.
Another point the judge made was related to Dish Network. The judge rejected the state AGs’ argument that Dish will not enter the wireless market nor keep its commitments to build a network.
Dish Network agreed to buy Sprint’s prepaid businesses and 800MHz spectrum to help it build out its own 5G network and become a fourth competitive U.S. carrier to replace Sprint. As part of its agreement with T-Mobile and Sprint, Dish will get access to 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail stores from the two carriers plus “robust access” to T-Mobile’s network for at least seven years.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure, who first announced the merger together back in April 2018, are unsurprisingly happy with today’s news.
“Today was a huge victory for this merger … and now we are FINALLY able to focus on the last steps to get this merger done! We want to thank the Court for its thorough review of the facts we presented in our case,” said Legere.
“Judge Marrero’s decision validates our view that this merger is in the best interests of the U.S. economy and American consumers,” Claure added.
Meanwhile, the state attorneys general who filed the lawsuit against the T-Mobile-Sprint merger aren’t ruling out an appeal.
“We disagree with this decision wholeheartedly, and will continue to fight the kind of consumer-harming megamergers our antitrust laws were designed to prevent. As we review our options, including a possible appeal, Americans should continue to hold the companies to account for their promises,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“From the start, this merger has been about massive corporate profits over all else, and despite the companies’ false claims, this deal will endanger wireless subscribers where it hurts most: their wallets,” James added. “There is no doubt that reducing the mobile market from four to three will be bad for consumers, bad for workers, and bad for innovation, which is why the states stepped up and led this lawsuit.”
T-Mobile and Sprint expect their merger to close as early as April 1, 2020. The merger must still be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission before it can be completed. Eighteen other PUCs have already given the merger approval.