T-Mobile US is likely to merge with Sprint, one of the company’s top executives said today.
Industry watchers have long expected Bellevue-based T-Mobile will be swallowed up by a larger player, despite the inability of AT&T to acquire the company two years ago.
But until today T-Mobile has been mum about the chances that Sprint will be its next suitor.
Chief Financial Officer Braxton Carter made the extraordinary admission to a Reuters reporter at an investor conference in New York.
“It’s the logical ultimate combination,” Carter told the reporter.
Regulators held up AT&T’s merger attempt and may be cool to third-place carrier Sprint acquiring fourth-place T-Mobile. Carter told Reuters the combination would make the marketplace more competitive.
Carter became T-Mobile’s finance leader in October after it acquired MetroPCS, where he was vice chairman and CFO.
Whether or not T-Mobile is actively pursuing the merger now, it’s making itself more attractive to Sprint by shedding employees, lowering operating costs and boosting subscribers through aggressive price cuts.
Selling to Sprint may help better compete with AT&T and Verizon but it would likely lead to significant layoffs in the Seattle area. Sprint last week laid off 161 former employees of Bellevue-based Clearwire which it acquired in July, primarily for its spectrum assets. Altogether Sprint is letting go 75 percent of the former Clearwire employees.
T-Mobile’s stock is up 2.4 percent to $26 today.