MetroPCS gives shareholders more time to consider T-Mobile bid

Shareholders will now vote on the improved offer on April 24

MetroPCS has pushed back a hotly anticipated shareholder meeting that will decide the fate of the carrier's proposed merger with T-Mobile USA.

MetroPCS shareholders were due to vote for or against the deal on Friday, but on Thursday, the regional U.S. carrier gave them more time to consider the matter after Deutsche Telekom sweetened its bid earlier this week.

The merger, proposed last October, would give T-Mobile USA's parent company 74 percent of a combined mobile operator that would have about 42 million subscribers and a stronger spectrum position than either MetroPCS or T-Mobile on their own. Shareholders of MetroPCS would get $1.5 billion and 26% of the new company. Regulators have already approved the plan.

However, some investment advisory services had recommended MetroPCS shareholders reject the deal. On Wednesday, Deutsche Telekom sweetened its bid, calling the new plan its "best and final offer." DT reduced the amount of debt that the merged company would carry by $3.8 billion, to $11.2 billion, and lowered the interest rate on that debt.

Prospects for the merger appear to have improved since the offer was modified. Two large hedge funds that own MetroPCS shares and had opposed the deal now support it, according to published reports.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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