July 15, 2019 / 11:31 PM / a year ago

State AGs fighting T-Mobile, Sprint merger say October trial may not be possible

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An attorney for the state attorneys general who filed a lawsuit in hopes of stopping T-Mobile’s $26 billion merger with Sprint told the judge on Monday that an Oct. 7 trial may not be possible.

FILE PHOTO: A smartphones with Sprint logo are seen in front of a screen projection of T-mobile logo, in this picture illustration taken April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

In a letter to Judge Victor Marrero on Monday, attorney Glenn Pomerantz said that in exchange for the expedited October 7 trial date, the states had been promised materials on a settlement between the Justice Department and the companies by June 28. Since the government and companies have not reached a settlement, those materials are not available.

“Plaintiff states engaged in discussions yesterday with defendants regarding the appropriate trial date and pre-trial schedule and continue to confer with defendants,” Pomerantz wrote in his letter.

In their lawsuit, filed in June, state attorneys general argued that the deal would cost consumers more than $4.5 billion annually.

To win over the Justice Department, which is not involved in the lawsuit, T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to a series of deal concessions, including selling the prepaid brand Boost.

The companies are in talks to sell Boost to Dish but are haggling over issues such as restrictions over who can buy the divested assets if they are sold in the future, with T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom seeking to prevent them from going to a cable or technology company.

T-Mobile is about 63% owned by Deutsche Telekom.

The companies told the court in late June that they were willing to refrain from closing the deal until after the state attorneys general case is completed.

Pomerantz, in a second letter dated Monday to another court official, expressed doubt that any deal with the Justice Department would satisfy the states.

“Although it is very unlikely that any settlement between Defendants and USDOJ could prevent the anticompetitive injury that the proposed merger will cause, there is no doubt that the settlement would dramatically change the nature of the evidence needed for trial,” he wrote.

The two companies have a July 29 deadline to complete the deal but are expected to extend it.

The companies told the court in late June that they were willing to refrain from closing the deal until after the state attorneys general case is completed.

The Federal Communications Commission’s chief has given his blessing to the merger in principle and is expected to circulate a formal order within weeks.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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