U.S. Justice Department "Skeptical" About Possible Sprint Acquisition of T-Mobile UA

Sprint's Possible T-Mobile US acquisition, to nobody's surprise, is viewed "skeptically" by U.S. Department of Justice officials, Sprint board members Masayoshi Son and Dan Hesse apparently have been told at a meeting. 

But nothing is ever as it appears on the surface, where it comes to key communications developments. AT&T, in formally announcing it has no plans to make an immediate bid for Vodafone, might trigger thinking that AT&T does not want to make such a bid.

That undoubtedly is the wrong way to view the declaration. By law, AT&T, when asked by U.K. authorities, whether it planned to make such a bid in the next 30 days, had to answer "no," and thereby wait at least six months before making any such bid. 

But AT&T would not have made such a bid within the next 30 days. Too much depends on how European regulators treat other pending deals, in particular consolidation in Germany. AT&T had no choice but to respond the way it did.

Likewise, some might think Sprint could not win approval for a deal to buy T-Mobile US, no matter what the concessions. That probably also is not entirely certain. 

The Justice Department, though having a view that the U.S. mobile market already is too concentrated, and though it favors a minimum of four providers, might also be presented with an acquisition plan that maintains four providers, and especially the robust attacks T-Mobile US is making.

It could happen.

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