July 31 (UPI) — Charter Communications Inc. ended speculation it would acquire Sprint Corp., announcing it would not seek a merger between media companies.
Japanese telecommunications and Internet company SoftBank Group, whose U.S. subsidiaries include Sprint, proposed the deal. It called for a merger of Sprint and Charter, controlled by SoftBank. The new company would then attempt to purchase T-Mobile U.S. Inc., Bloomberg News reported Monday, citing sources close to negotiations.
The deal would merge Sprint’s wireless reseller capability, known as MVNO, or “mobile virtual wireless operator,” with Charter, the second-largest U.S. cable company.
Charter announced Sunday that it considered SoftBank’s offer but concluded it would retain its current union with Verizon Communications Inc.
“We understand why a deal is attractive for SoftBank, but Charter has no interest in acquiring Sprint. We have a very good MVNO relationship with Verizon and intend to launch wireless services to cable customers next year,” Alex Dudley, Charter spokesman, said in a statement.
Sprint has been involved in exclusive talks with Charter and Comcast Corp. since May about potential deals, including one that would allow Comcast and Charter to offer wireless service under their own brands using Sprint’s network. That exclusivity ended last week, and although SoftBank’s offer was declined, it could still make an offer to buy Charter, thus uniting Charter and Sprint. Comcast and T-Mobile have had merger talks in the past as well.
The merger proposals come as the wireless industry prepares another technology cycle, known as Fifth Generation, or 5G, and T-Mobile and Sprint, the third- and fourth-largest carriers, respectively, will require additional capital.