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Judge in Sprint Merger Extends Review

The Sprint / T-Mobile merger faced another setback when a federal judge extended his Tunney Act review of the U.S. DoJ settlement into mid-February.

We had initially expected this routine review to end in mid-November. Now it might not conclude until after Judge Victor Marrero’s decision in the State AG case, thereby delaying T-Mobile’s ability to close the deal

wrote analysts Walter Piecyk and Joe Galone.

Judge Timothy Kelly, who is assessing the DoJ’s approval of the merger said he would consider friend-of-the-court briefs on the proposed transaction. The briefs must be limited to 20 pages and filed by January 24, with the parties responding by February 7.

Under the Tunney Act, a court must make an independent determination that the remedy the DoJ settled for is in the public interest.

Starting a new comment period for the Tunney Act review is not a good sign, said the analysts:

T-Mobile likely hopes that the Judge’s willingness to listen to those contesting the deal will not extend into more testimony in yet another court…  That could end up preventing T-Mobile from quickly closing the deal if they were to achieve a favorable ruling in the State AG case. More delays could enable the States time to appeal.

Judge Marrero could issue his decision in February, but analysts at New Street Research said they would not be surprised to see the judge rule on the Tunney Act proceeding before Judge Marrero rules on the trial, as the Tunney Act judge will be writing based on a much smaller record.

Read the entire article here

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