Move Over AT&T, Sprint May Be Taking Over T-Mobile

Two years ago, AT&T’s bid to acquire T-Mobile fell through (with AT&T’s consolation prize a roaming agreement with Deutsche Telekom), but another one of the four major U.S. mobile carriers is considering a T-Mobile purchase.

This time it’s Sprint that has magenta on the brain, according to the Wall Street Journal’s sources. Such an acquisition would consolidate the third- and fourth-largest U.S. mobile carriers into a single behemoth and would thereby cut the number of majors from four to three.

T-Mobile storefront
(Credit: Bloomberg)

The official bid would come sometime in the first half of 2014 and could be worth as much as $20 billion or more. Of course, there are plenty of regulatory headaches to endure, and the fact that the U.S. Justice Department effectively scuttled the AT&T/T-Mobile merger in 2011 doesn’t bode especially well for Sprint’s chances.

Both Sprint and T-Mobile have seen plenty of high-level moving and shaking this year; Japan’s SoftBank acquired a majority stake in the former, and the latter merged with MetroPCS to boost the companies’ combined subscriber total to 43 million.