Exclusive: U.S. state attorneys general plan lawsuit to stop Sprint and T-Mobile merger

Diane Bartz, David Shepardson, Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – At least 10 state attorneys general plan to jointly file a lawsuit as soon as Tuesday to stop the $26 billion merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, a deal that would reduce the number of nationwide wireless carriers to three from four, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

New York state’s attorney general is leading the lawsuit, one source said. New York’s attorney general’s office has announced a press conference for this afternoon.

The lawsuit is to be filed in New York, according to one source.

T-Mobile, whose parent company is Deutsche Telekom AG, and Sprint, which is controlled by Japan’s SoftBank Group Ltd, did not immediately comment. A spokeswoman for the New York attorney general declined to comment.

Sprint Chief Executive Marcelo Claure and his counterpart at T-Mobile, John Legere, met with the Justice Department on Monday, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The companies have offered to sell prepaid brand Boost Mobile, to reduce the combined company’s market share in the prepaid wireless business. They have also indicated that they were considering divesting wireless spectrum.

The deal has won the backing of a majority of the Federal Communications Commission. The U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division staff has recommended that the agency block the deal, but no final decision has been made.