A merger between Sprint and T-Mobile has been rumored for years at this point, and a new report from CNBC claims there two are indeed still at it. An announcement may be a few weeks out, or it may not happen at all, but CNBC reports that the current framework would see T-Mobile and its parent company Deutsche Telekom emerge as the majority owner of the combined carrier.
T-Mobile was considered to be a target for takeover for years, and AT&T tried in 2011. However, that deal fell apart at the last minute, and the cancellation terms gave the carrier a big boost when it needed the most. In 2014, Sprint and T-Mobile officially called off plans to merge, which led to the resignation of Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. The rumors of a merger haven't gone away, though.
Softbank, which purchased controlling interest in Sprint in 2012, has been counting on a merger to make its investment profitable. Earlier this year, there were rumors Softbank was interested in selling off Sprint as part of a merger. The new CNBC report points to a stock-for-stock merger, which would leave T-Mobile and DT in control of the combined carrier. Softbank would become a large minority shareholder.
T-Mobile has nearly 70 million subscribers right now, making it the third largest carrier in the US. Sprint has been on the decline lately, but it still has around 52 million. With a combined 122 million subs, that would put the new carrier within striking distance of AT&T with its 136 million subscribers. Of course, this is all still hypothetical. No deal has been announced, and there's no guarantee it would go through even if it was. However, the Republican-controlled FCC and Justice Department would most likely be more amenable to the merger than they might have been in the past.