Jan 30 It would be difficult for the U.S.
Justice Department to approve a merger between any of the top
four U.S. wireless phone companies, said William Baer, assistant
attorney general for the antitrust division, the New York Times
reported on Thursday.
Baer's comments came amid speculation that T-Mobile US Inc
and Sprint Corp might announce a deal in coming
He said any deal would face intense scrutiny because
consumers had enjoyed "much more favorable competitive
conditions" since the division blocked a proposed merger between
AT&T Inc and T-Mobile in 2011, the Times reported.
"It's going to be hard for someone to make a persuasive case
that reducing four firms to three is actually going to improve
competition for the benefit of American consumers," he told the
newspaper, without referring to any specific deal.
Baer, who is speaking on Thursday evening at a meeting of
the New York State Bar Association, was expected to tell
antitrust lawyers there that he would prefer to see companies
drop any inclination to play hardball with regulators and offer
meaningful divestitures earlier, rather than later, in order to
win quick approval for their deals.
"Often ... the strategy seems to be to eliminate a big rival
while proposing a remedy that allows for a small rival or new
entrant with limited resources to nip at the heels of the few
remaining big players," Baer said in remarks issued before the
"We will not waste our time with plainly inadequate
settlement offers," said Baer.
Baer also noted in his speech, which discussed at length
efforts to fight bid-rigging, that the Washington office of the
Justice Department was adding prosecutors to fight cartels.