2017: The Summer of ‘Love-You-But-Don’t-Want-to-Merge-With-You’

Verizon outbid AT&T, making a $3.1 billion offer for wireless startup Straight Path Communications last week, which owns airwave rights primed for 5G networks slated to be a reality in the coming years, reported Fortune.

Sprint and T-Mobile began preliminary merger discussions, Bloomberg reported on Friday. Time will tell whether the two companies will come to an agreement. In addition, Wall Street analysts question the viability of the deal, since T-Mobile’s value has surpassed that of Sprint’s since previous merger talks.

Concerns over too much consolidation may be a factor as well. In 2014, Sprint CEO Masayoshi Son tried to acquire T-Mobile but was blocked by Obama administration regulators. Although regulations may be abated under the current administration, moving from four major carriers down to three presents a significant shift that may violate antitrust laws, according to the accounts.  

Theories abound about whether the cable companies themselves will merge, prompting a sharp tweet from Public Knowledge SVP and advocacy lawyer Harold Feld, who has opposed many media mergers. “Doesn’t this violate antitrust laws? Do we even still have antitrust laws?”

Verizon is also not in a rush to acquire additional companies. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam recently told Wall Street analysts regarding potential mergers, “The bottom line is we don’t feel the urgency that seems to be out there in the analyst community, the banking community, and the media.”

This Monday, Comcast and Charter Communications announced a partnership to share wireless technology with a hold on either company moving forward with a merger for at least one year.

May 17, 2017

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