Senate Democrats Want Early Probe of Sprint, T-Mobile Deal

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By Liz Crampton

A group of Senate Democrats wants the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission to start looking into the possible tie-up of Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. now, warning that the deal “could raise significant antitrust issues.”

Political pressure has already started to mount against the transaction that would combine the No. 3 and No. 4 cell-phone providers in the U.S. Sprint and T-Mobile have tried to merge before, but the deal fell apart due to regulatory roadblocks.

But now the companies are close to a merger agreement that could be announced by the end of the month, Bloomberg News reported. If the deal were to go through, the number of major cell-phone providers would shrink from four to three.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, spearheaded a letter to the heads of the DOJ’s antitrust division and the FCC. Other signatories are Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore).

“Beginning an investigation into a merger of T-Mobile and Sprint now will allow your agencies to quickly, but fully, review the agreement if it is announced,” the senators wrote. “The likelihood of the transaction occurring, combined with the serious issues that it raises provide compelling reason for DOJ and the FCC to begin investigating the potential transaction.”

Sprint and T-Mobile weren’t immediately available for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Liz Crampton in Washington at lcrampton@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bna.com

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