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Sprint and T-Mobile, after years of going back and forth as to whether they are going to tie up two of the largest telecom providers in the U.S., have announced that the two companies have entered a merger agreement this morning.
The merger will be an all-stock transaction, and will now be subject to regulatory approval. That latter part is going to be its biggest challenge, because it will not only tie up the No. 3 and No. 4 carriers into the U.S. into a single unit, but also that international organizations hold significant stakes in both companies. Softbank controls a majority of Spring, while Deutsche Telekom controls a significant chunk of T-Mobile. Following the administration’s intervention in the Broadcom-Qualcomm takeover attempt, it isn’t clear what will actually go through in terms of major mergers these days.
Bloomberg is reporting that Deutsche Telekom will have 42% ownership of the combined company, while SoftBan will own around 27% of the company.
As expected, the argument here is for the expansion of 5G networks as plans for that start to ramp up. T-Mobile argues in its announcement that it will help it be competitive with AT&T and Verizon as telecom companies start to roll out a next-generation 5G network, though it does in the end remove a carrier choice for end consumers in the U.S..
“The New T-Mobile will have the network capacity to rapidly create a nationwide 5G network with the breadth and depth needed to enable U.S. firms and entrepreneurs to continue to lead the world in the coming 5G era, as U.S. companies did in 4G,” T-Mobile said in a statement as part of the announcement. “The new company will be able to light up a broad and deep 5G network faster than either company could separately. T-Mobile deployed nationwide LTE twice as fast as Verizon and three times faster than AT&T, and the combined company is positioned to do the same in 5G with deep spectrum assets and network capacity.”
Both companies appeared to be finalizing the deal on Friday, when they set valuation terms and were preparing to announce the merger today. The deal values Sprint at an enterprise value of around $59 billion, with the combined company having an enterprise value of $146 billion. AT&T has a market cap of around $214 billion, while Verizon has a market cap of around $213 billion, as of Sunday.
The transaction, the companies said, is of course subject to regulatory approval. But, pending approval, it is expected to close “no later than the first half of 2019.”
Disclosure: Verizon is the parent company of Oath, which owns TechCrunch.
Verizon, the largest carrier in the United States by subscriber count, saw a monthly subscriber increase of 260,000 during the first quarter of 2018, reports Bloomberg, largely due to an increased number of smart watch activations.
The company actually lost phone and tablet subscribers last quarter, but the dip in subscribers did not hurt its bottom line because of smart watches, wearables, and other connected devices like vehicles.
Verizon says it added a total of 359,000 subscribers who are using smart watches and other devices during the quarter, making up for the loss of 24,000 phone customers and 75,000 tablet customers.
There was no breakdown in the number of activations by specific device, but Verizon’s jump in smart watch subscribers comes following the September release of the Apple Watch Series 3, the first Apple Watch with LTE connectivity.
The Apple Watch Series 3 allows customers to use the Apple Watch sans iPhone for the first time, as it has its own cellular connection. Verizon and other carriers charge customers $10 per month to add a smart watch to an existing smartphone plan.
Verizon shared the numbers during its first quarter 2018 earnings results, released this morning. Verizon stock has since surged as much as 3.6 percent.
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