Report: Sprint gives up on pursuit of T-Mobile USA

Newspaper reports cite difficulty getting regulator clearance

Sprint is giving up its plan to acquire T-Mobile USA and will name a new CEO as soon as Wednesday, according to several news reports.

Sprint, the number-three U.S. carrier, had been looking to buy fourth-placed T-Mobile as a way to compete better against Verizon and AT&T, which are both much larger rivals.

But Sprint, which is owned by Japan's Softbank, has abandoned the plan because it thought it would be too difficult to get approval from U.S. regulators, sources told The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and The New York Times.

The deal would have removed a small but important player from the U.S. mobile telecommunications market, and for that reason many had suspected the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice would seek to block it.

While T-Mobile is the smallest of the major carriers, its aggressive price cuts and no-contract service plans have helped keep competition alive in the market.

Last week it emerged that a French telco, Iliad, was also interested in buying T-Mobile, although reports have said the deal is unlikely unless Iliad makes a substantially better offer. A deal with Iliad would be less likely to face opposition from regulators.

In a move that's likely related, Sprint will name a new CEO as early as Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported. Current CEO Dan Hesse has been in charge at Sprint since 2007.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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