T-Mobile and Sprint’s $26 billion merger appeared to be well on its way to being finalized when a U.S. District Judge ruled in favor of the transaction last month.
Now a California Public Utility Commission administrative judge has recommended approval of the deal. This ruling appears to remove on of the last hurdles to closing this merger.
A group of Attorneys General sued to try and halt the merger but were unsuccessful in making their case. They recently said they would not appeal the decision leading the way to the final stages of closing this deal. New T-Mobile will have the largest chunk of mid-band spectrum of any carrier except for Dish. This sets them up for building a 5G network covering large areas of the US very quickly.
The final piece of the puzzle
D.C. District Court judge Timothy Kelly is reviewing the T-Mobile-Sprint merger under the Tunney Act—a law passed in 1974 that requests a judge review any antitrust decisions the Department of Justice makes. Judge Kelly is expected approve the deal—President Trump appointed Kelly, so he probably wouldn’t deny a merger the Federal Communications Commission and DOJ both approve.
Any delay would not come from a Judge Kelly rejection, but rather when he decides to make his ruling. He was expected to do so in November, but it hasn’t happened yet. Kelly has no deadline to make a decision, so even if the CPUC signs off on the merger T-Mobile and Sprint will still have to wait to clear this legal hurdle.
Wall Street analysts at New Street Research projected that Judge Kelly would make his decision before the CPUC—in February. Given it is now approaching mid March, and Tunney Act ruling has not been made, T-Mobile and Sprint might have to wait a little longer to officially celebrate a merger they’ve been trying to make happen since 2018.