A federal judge has approved T-Mobile's $26.5 billion takeover of Sprint.
Long opposed by consumer advocates, the mega-merger will combine America's 3rd and 4th-largest wireless carriers.
In the decision filed Tuesday, Judge Victor Marrero wrote, "The resulting stalemate leaves the Court lacking sufficiently impartial and objective ground on which to rely in basing a sound forecast of the likely competitive effects of a merger."
The ruling clears one of the final hurdles for the deal, which still can't close until the California Public Utilities Commission approves the transaction.
Attorneys general from New York, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and D.C. originally brought the lawsuit to block the deal following approval from the Justice Department of Federal Communications Commission. The states had argued that combining the No. 3 and No. 4 U.S. carriers would limit competition and result in higher prices for consumers. The companies had argued their merger would help them compete against top players AT&T and Verizon and advance efforts to build a nationwide 5G network.
T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to certain concessions to the government before the agencies cleared the deal. The companies told the FCC they would deploy a 5G network covering 97% of the U.S. population within three years of closing the deal. Sprint also agreed to sell Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and other prepaid phone businesses, as well as some of its wireless spectrum to Dish Network for $5 billion before gaining approval from the Justice Department.
Judge approves $26 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint
[CNBC, reporting by Lauren Feiner, Tue, Feb 11 2020, 8:17 AM EST]
Observations from Twitter, below.
A federal judge rejected states' argument that Dish won't emerge as a 'viable competitor' after T-Mobile US and Sprint's deal to combine. https://t.co/PPF0EMjLhw
— John Pepitone (@JohnPepitone) February 11, 2020
Our fight to oppose the #Sprint #TMobile merger sends a strong message: even in the face of powerful opposition, we won't hesitate to stand up for consumers who deserve choice & fair prices. We'll stand on the side of competition over mega mergers, every time.
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) February 11, 2020
A federal judge has approved T-Mobile's $59bn acquisition of mobile rival Sprint without conditions, clearing a path for further consolidation in the US telecommunications market https://t.co/utquiW3SMe
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) February 11, 2020
Congrats Sprint — the court definitely thought you were a failing company.
— Alex Sherman (@sherman4949) February 11, 2020
— David Shepardson (@davidshepardson) February 11, 2020
Breaking News: T-Mobile is allowed to take over Sprint, a judge ruled. The merger would combine America's third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers. https://t.co/OmgiSsWDZi
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 11, 2020
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) February 11, 2020