The judge presiding over a high-profile trial that could decide the fate of the Sprint T-Mobile merger is likely to rule against the merger, according to Wall Street analysts from Cowen. The analysts, who sat through the 10-day trial, have estimated the odds of the judge ruling against the merger at 60%, according to a news report.
The lawsuit brought against the merger by the state attorneys general is the last hurdle the merger partners must overcome to see the deal succeed.
The Sprint T-Mobile merger previously received approval from the Federal Trade Commission and the FCC, with conditions. Conditions imposed by the FTC include requiring Sprint to divest its Boost Mobile prepaid business and some spectrum to Dish Network with the goal of spurring competition. But according to the Light Reading report, the Cowen analysts believe the judge is not convinced that Dish will be a strong enough competitor – at least not in the near term. The analysts reportedly noted that Dish will take four years to build a wireless network covering 70% of the U.S. population and will remain much smaller than Sprint for the foreseeable future.
Sprint T-Mobile State Attorneys General Suit
The Cowen analysts reportedly expect a ruling on the state attorneys general suit in February. The number of states involved in the lawsuit has dwindled somewhat in recent months, as some states have reached agreements with the merger partners that have assuaged their concerns.
If the merger receives approval, conditions imposed by the FCC include some rather aggressive wireless network build-out targets. The merger partners have committed to deploying 5G service to cover 97% of the U.S. population within three years and 99% within six years.
Additionally, the partners have said that within six years, 90% of the overall population and two thirds of the rural population would have access to mobile service supporting speeds of at least 100 Mbps. Within the same time frame, 99% of the overall population and 90% of the rural population would have access to speeds of at least 50 Mbps.
Two of the five FCC commissioners disapproved of the merger. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel expressed concern that Dish might never build a wireless network but instead might operate as a reseller and simply pay a fine for not completing network construction. Commissioner Geoffrey Starks argued that the merger would result in fewer overall jobs.
Whether or not the Sprint T-Mobile merger is approved, T-Mobile’s high-profile CEO John Legere has said he will leave the company May 1.