T-Mobile-Sprint merger approved by federal judge, who rejects state antitrust concerns

Judge Victor Marrero disagreed with a group of state attorneys general in his ruling

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday approved a merger between No.3 and No.4 wireless carriers T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp, rejecting a claim by a group of states that said the deal would violate antitrust laws and raise prices.

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During a two-week trial in December, T-Mobile and Sprint argued the merger will better equip the new company to compete with top players Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc, creating a more efficient company with low prices and faster internet speeds.

The states, led by California and New York, had said the deal would reduce competition, leading to higher prices.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
TMUST-MOBILE US INC96.48+1.34+1.41%
SSPRINT CORP.8.69+0.02+0.23%

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero clears the path for the deal, which already has federal approval and was originally valued at $26 billion.

FCC APPROVES T-MOBILE-SPRINT MERGER, REQUIRES BOOST MOBILE DIVESTITURE

The U.S. Justice Department approved the deal in July after the carriers agreed to sell some prepaid assets to satellite provider Dish Network Corp, which would create its own cellular network to ensure that there would still be four competitors in the market. The Federal Communications Commission signed off on the deal in October.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure shake hands as they are interviewed by Liz Claman during her "Countdown to the Closing Bell" program on the Fox Business Network, in New York in 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The states maintained that Dish was ill-equipped to become a competitive fourth wireless carrier, noting that it lacks experience, scale and brand recognition in wireless.

WHEN WILL THE U.S. HAVE 5G?

Uniting T-Mobile's low-band spectrum and Sprint's mid-band spectrum could allow a fast rollout of a national 5G network.

Japan's Softbank Group Corp is Sprint's controlling shareholder.

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(Reporting by Arriana McLymore; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Lisa Shumaker and Nick Zieminski)