By Nadia Damouni
NEW YORK Dec 3 Sprint Nextel Corp is
unlikely to make a counteroffer for MetroPCS Communications Inc
<PCS.N, as it focuses on closing its $20.1 billion deal with
Japan's Softbank Corp, three people familiar with the
matter said on Monday.
Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless service provider,
and Softbank, a mobile operator, announced in mid-October that
the Japanese company would buy up to a 70 percent stake in
Sprint thinks that making a bid for MetroPCS, which agreed
to a takeover by Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile
U.S.A., would complicate the ongoing regulatory review of its
deal with Softbank, the people said.
Sprint, however, remains interested in U.S. consolidation
and may revisit a potential deal after it secures approval for
the proposed investment by Softbank, the people said. The people
asked not to be named because the matter is not public.
Representatives for Softbank and Sprint declined to comment.
Shares of MetroPCS rose 6.2 percent in the past two trading
sessions, with analysts and investors speculating that Sprint
was preparing to make an offer for the smaller wireless service
provider, before MetroPCS shareholders meet to vote on the deal
with Deutsche Telekom.
That speculation was triggered by a three-week delay to Dec.
21 in the filing of Sprint's and Softbank's proxy statement on
their proposed deal with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges
However, the delay in filing was not related to MetroPCS,
the people familiar with the matter said. The delay came for two
other reasons, the people said - negotiations between Sprint and
Clearwire Corp over an interest payment, and accounting
implications related to Sprint's $480 million deal in November
to acquire some assets from U.S. Cellular.
Clearwire said on Monday that it has paid $255 million in
debt interest due on Dec. 1. Sprint said it delayed the proxy
statement because it needed more time given the complexity of
the Softbank deal.
The deal between Sprint and Softbank is expected to close in
mid-2013, subject to shareholder approval, U.S. antitrust and
regulatory approval by the Federal Communications Commission,
and Softbank's ability to secure financing.
"The problem is that at this point for them (Sprint) to put
a bid would delay the closing with Softbank from a regulatory
standpoint," said one of the people close to the situation.
Sprint does not want to make an offer for MetroPCS that
would be conditioned upon their receiving approval for a tie-up
with Softbank, a second source said.