Sprint's Claure reiterates benefits of a potential T-Mobile tie-up

Marcelo Claure
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure continues to tout the benefits of a potential tie-up with T-Mobile—or, perhaps, some other suitor.

Claure took to CNBC Monday, noting that the parent companies of both U.S. carriers have made overtures toward each other in recent months.

“My largest shareholder, Masa (son of SoftBank) has made it very public that he believes a potential combination with T-Mobile would be great,” Claure said, as Seeking Alpha reported. “The Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim (Hoettges) has also made it very public; my competitor (T-Mobile CEO) John Legere has made it very public, and I’ve made it very public.”

Earlier Monday, Claure told attendees at the eMerge Americas conference in Miami that negotiations with T-Mobile are ongoing, according to the Miami Herald. But Claure said it would also consider another partner, including perhaps a cable company looking to get into the wireless market.

Speculation of a merger between the two U.S. wireless operators has continued to heat up in recent weeks, due to both the end of the quiet period following the incentive auction of 600 MHz airwaves and the likelihood of a lighter regulatory stance of Donald Trump’s administration compared to the Obama White House.

SoftBank spent more than $20 billion to acquire Sprint in 2012, and the company had hoped to acquire T-Mobile as well, merging the carriers to take on Verizon and AT&T. That effort was dropped when U.S. regulators indicated they were opposed to a merger, however.

The M&A front in the United States teems with potential alliances as the worlds of telecom, cable and digital media collide. But T-Mobile and Sprint may be the most obvious potential marriage: T-Mobile continues to build on its impressive momentum but will need more high-band spectrum as 5G technologies and services begin to come to market in the coming years, while Sprint has more high-band spectrum than any other U.S. carrier but is likely to struggle to leverage those airwaves due to financial concerns.

“Sprint has a treasure trove of 2.5 spectrum,” T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter said during an investors conference last month. “Granted, not all of it’s the same; part of it has a little bit of hair on it. But that is still a treasure trove that you could do amazing things with. And the synergy comes from putting these two networks together, and having the densification necessary to ubiquitously deploy that 2.5. Sprint’s doing that city by city now. And that will take them a decade with that type of strategy.”