Sprint-T-Mobile merger questions: Will regulators OK it? And, Legere as CEO?

Merger would create a larger No. 3 carrier, but number of nationwide carriers would fall from four to three

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Instead, Menezes said a merger would mean that Sprint and T-Mobile "would be ceding the midsized and large enterprise market to AT&T and Verizon."

What about T-Mobile's 'un-carrier' tactics?

T-Mobile's brash "un-carrier" moves over the past year were mainly to win subscribers quickly to make the company attractive for a possible sale, so that record doesn't necessarily indicate how the company would perform post-merger.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Legere said that T-Mobile was "dead" when he arrived and that he needed to be flamboyant and attack his competitors to get ahead, implying he was not getting the company ready for a sale.

Entner disagreed, and said that T-Mobile is "clearly setting itself up for sale, partly by driving customer gains through buying customers from other carriers and by buying their [early termination fees] for up to $600. That's not a behavior for the long run. They are burning through cash and that's not sustainable for the long run of T-Mobile and the industry overall."

Entner said the outcome of T-Mobile's actions could be disastrous, much like what happened in the 1990s during what was called the "long-distance wars," when carriers offered $50 to $200 to a consumer to switch carriers. "The consumer in the short run might enjoy it, but in the long run, it ruins the entire industry," he said.

Entner also said that Deutsche Telekom, which owns 66% of T-Mobile, "clearly wants to exit its ownership" stake in the U.S. company even though it would reportedly hold on to 15% to 20% of the combined entity, initially. He speculated that Softbank would buy out whatever remains of Deutsche Telecom in coming years as Softbank finds more cash to do so.

Would Legere become CEO of a combined Sprint-T-Mobile?

So what is Legere up to and would he become CEO of a combined Sprint-T-Mobile? Bloomberg News recently reported that a person familiar with the merger discussions said that Legere is the leading candidate to become the CEO of the combined company, while Hesse at Sprint said he wouldn't be bothered if he didn't get the job.

If that's so, and Legere gets the nod should the deal be approved, it's likely Legere would continue to push his outlandish behavior at press conferences, and probably continue the aggressive pricing and service deals.

"John Legere is a very, very smart man, and he says things in public for shock value and for differentiation from his competitors," Entner said. "Whatever Legere does is fully thought through and very calculated."

Some analysts joked that if Legere is made CEO of a combined Sprint-T-Mobile, the FCC would need to reduce the number of profane words that can't be spoken during public broadcasts.

Indeed, it's hard to imagine two executives more different from Legere than Sprint's Hesse and Softbank's Son.

Son would likely be Legere's boss under a merger.

"That would be fun, wouldn't it?" Menezes said. "Legere and Son could be like Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner of baseball fame, with potential for lots of wins and lots of drama."

This article, Sprint-T-Mobile merger questions: Will regulators approve it? Legere as CEO --for real?, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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