Deutsche Telekom said the merger between T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS -- the fourth and fifth largest U.S. networks respectively -- should close by the second quarter of 2013, chief financial officer Timotheus Hoettges told a German newspaper Boersenzeitung.
Last week, the two mobile companies announced they would merge for $1.5 billion. The merger will include a complicated stock swap that will leave the new company with about $15 billion in debt, but it pushes the two companies into a rival position to tackle third-place Sprint.
The 74--26 percent split between MetroPCS and T-Mobile respectively will lessen the burden on Deutsche Telekom, who in recent months said it wanted to leave the U.S. market after the failed AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile last year. The merger will give the German cellular giant a liquid asset it can wash its hands of in the future if it decides (again) to exit the lucrative U.S. market, Reuters says.
The T-Mobile--MetroPCS deal isn't exactly great news for Sprint, which retains its third-place in the U.S. market. Only today, Japanese cellular giant Softbank announced it would take a 70 percent stake in the third-place U.S. network Sprint for $20.1 billion, giving Sprint a much needed cash injection of $8 billion to invest in its own developing 4G LTE network.
CNET's Roger Cheng noted that Sprint could make headway in pushing for its own acquisition or merger. Now that the cell giant has $8 billion on standby for a rainy day, it could make a punt for a smaller network and boost its mobile subscriber share -- increasing its share of 48 million customers by a good few million more. It's a long distance yet from Verizon's 90 million-plus subscriber base, but a suggested acquisition could boost Sprint's numbers and get it back into profitability once more.
Image credit: Greg Sandoval/CNET.