Sprint Corp. has started preliminary conversations to merge with T-Mobile US Inc., the latest attempt to consolidate in a market watched closely by U.S. regulators, according to people familiar with the matter.
Executives of both SoftBank Group Corp., Sprint’s largest shareholder, and Sprint itself have had informal contact with T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom AG about a transaction, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Merger talks in the wireless industry had been on hold for almost a year because of a government spectrum auction that required participants to avoid negotiating deals with each other until April 27.
SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son and Deutsche Telekom Chief Executive Officer Tim Hoettges separately told investors this week they’d be open to discussions about consolidation.
Banks haven’t been formally hired, although financial firms are jockeying for roles if a deal comes together, the people familiar with the matter said. Representatives for Sprint, SoftBank, T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom, which owns about 65 percent of T-Mobile, declined to comment.