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Sprint-T-Mobile Merger Talk Spikes While Verizon-Comcast Subsides

Merger

**Editor’s Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in November-December 2016.**

JPMorgan on Monday said a Verizon-Comcast merger isn’t going to happen, but all bets are on wireless competitors Sprint and T-Mobile pairing sooner than later.

That’s according to an Investor’s Business Daily report. JPMorgan analyst Philip Cusick on Monday issued a broad research report on telecom industry M&A scenarios.

A deal combining Verizon with Charter Communications also is unlikely, he said.

“We believe a combination of Verizon and Charter is feasible but difficult on the financials, but Comcast’s overall size and NBC ownership make a deal with Verizon a non-starter as the regulatory review process would likely be quite difficult,” Cusick said.

Comcast, Charter and other cable TV firms hold rights to lease access to Verizon’s mobile network on a wholesale basis under a mobile virtual network operator agreement. Last fall, Comcast announced plans to launch a wireless service by mid-2017 using its Wi-Fi hotspots and airwaves leased from Verizon.

Cusick said the cable TV companies and Verizon might try to forge a deeper partnership if an outright merger isn’t doable, but that relationship likely would unravel.{ad}

The likelihood of a deal between Sprint and T-Mobile now is at more than 35 percent, up from 10 percent in September, with a 70 percent chance of approval, Cusick said.

Comcast buying T-Mobile would be bad news for AT&T and Verizon because it would “cement” an industry structure with four national players, rather than three, he said.

“If the Sprint deal does not work out, a cable transaction becomes the next most likely event for T-Mobile,” Cusick said. “We believe that Comcast is very serious about getting into wireless, and we see synergies as substantial.”


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