KS AG responds to Sprint merger ruling

T-Mobile store next to a Sprint store

Sprint's stock closed Tuesday 77.50% higher at $8.52, and T-Mobile closed 11.78% up at $94.49.

Judge Victor Marrero of U.S. District Court in Manhattan ruled against 13 state attorneys general who sought to block the $26 billion deal as potentially harmful to consumers.

News of the approval sent Sprint stock soaring by 65 percent as the markets opened Tuesday, while T-Mobile rose almost 9 percent.

Sprint has been in losses for almost a decade, and the company's CEO told the court during the trial that it offers "an inferior product" that will keep it in a cycle of losses if the court doesn't approve the merger, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier. The US Department of Justice approved the merger in July on condition that it sell key assets to Dish Networks.

Shares in Sprint-owner SoftBank rose by more than 12% on Wednesday when the Tokyo stock market reopened after the National Founding Day holiday. The theory is that the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint will provide a stronger No. 3 wireless competitor to AT&T and Verizon as 5G rolls out. The states that sued had urged Marrero after the trial not to give any extra weight to the federal government's decision, calling the government's review of the deal "cursory". Moreover, DISH has promised to build a 5G network from scratch in a few short years.

Letitia James, the AG from NY, said in statement the reduced competition is "bad for consumers, bad for workers, and bad for innovation".

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FCC chairman Ajit Pai said he was "pleased" with the decision. citing the companies' promise to expand 5G.

The merger still must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission before it can become official.

If left unchallenged, the ruling will mean the majority of U.S. mobile phone users will be served by just three networks: Verizon, AT&T, and the new T-Mobile.

Wells Fargo Securities analysts noted that the New T-Mobile will have an abundance of spectrum that will need to be deployed, which is positive for towers - especially those with small cell exposure.

Legere announced in November that he will be handing off the job to Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert in May, but plans to remain on the combined company's board. If the deal clears, Dish will instead focus its efforts on building a 5G network covering 20% of the country by June 2022 and 70% of the U.S. population by June 2023, with the effect of facing a $2.2 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury if it fails to live up to its commitments. Eligible homes will be able to get five years of free home service offering 100GB of data per year.

This probably won't be the end of this story, the states can (and likely will) take their grievance to the appeals circuit, and potentially as high as the US Supreme Court, which could drag the process out through the next election cycle.

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