Sprint's Hesse plots against AT&T/T-Mobile deal in white board war room

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Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse has thrown himself fully into the fight against AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA with as much vigor as any chief executive, especially because Sprint could have the most to lose if the deal goes through.

The extent to which Hesse has dedicated himself to stopping the deal is revealed in a Bloomberg profile of the Sprint chief, who escapes to a room at Sprint's headquarters filled with white boards and colored markers to plot the company's strategy against the acquisition.

Though Sprint has made no secret of its opposition to the deal, and has hired lobbyists to get out the word in Washington, Hesse's involvement in that campaign is deep and direct. He has tripled the amount of time he spends in government affairs, is courting state regulators and top technology CEOs to come out against the deal, and is working on other tactics as well.

Hesse, a former AT&T wireless executive, said stopping the deal isn't personal, and said he is not concerned about the fact that AT&T will have to pay T-Mobile a $6 billion breakup fee if the deal doesn't get approved by regulators at the FCC and Department of Justice. "That's just not my concern at all, one way or the other," he told Bloomberg. "I'd feel like we did the right thing for the industry [if we stop the transaction]."

AT&T executives have argued that the company needs to acquire T-Mobile to address users' data demands, and that the transaction won't harm industry competition.

Sprint and other companies have take the opposite side of that argument. "If Sprint can lay out how this hurts consumers and competition, the antitrust division is going to listen," Christopher Sprigman, former counsel at the Justice's antitrust division, told Bloomberg. "Sprint's message is not one to be ignored. This merger is very likely to harm competition."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article

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