November 16, 2012 / 9:11 AM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-MetroPCS expects shareholders to back T-Mobile deal

* Shareholder vote seen in February or March

* MetroPCS CFO says 100 pct behind T-Mobile deal

* Combined company could outperform margin guidance

By Leila Abboud and Kate Holton

BARCELONA, Nov 16 (Reuters) - MetroPCS Communications Inc expects its shareholders to back a deal to merge with T-Mobile USA in a vote planned for February or March, its finance officer said on Friday.

T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, and MetroPCS said last month that they wanted to merge their companies, creating a stronger number four on the U.S. wireless market.

T-Mobile is seeking to catch up with market leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T, and third-place Sprint as the market moves quickly to super-fast mobile Internet offerings.

Braxton Carter told a Morgan Stanley investor conference that the group had held talks with several suitors but was now 100 percent behind the deal with T-Mobile.

He added that the combined company could outperform the margin guidance it gave to the market because of network savings and expansion of the Metro brand into new areas of the U.S.

Analysts and bankers have been expecting a fresh round of consolidation in the U.S. since AT&T’s bid to buy T-Mobile USA collapsed late last year over competition concerns.

Japan’s Softbank earlier this month agreed to buy a 70 percent stake in rival carrier Sprint Nextel and there have been reports it may also look to acquire MetroPCS.

“As to other parties coming in, we had discussions with multiple parties in the past year and half,” Carter said. “I have no way to speculate what could happen but we are 100 percent behind this transaction.

“We think it is the right transaction, and we are confident our shareholders will approve it. There are massive synergies from this, the creation of a value player with a multi-segment strategy.”

Asked how long the T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS deal could take to be approved, Carter replied: “It’s possible that we can go through in one round of SEC review process, but realistically it will go through multiple rounds. We are very focused on going as quickly as possible.”

The two groups said they would file their proxy statement to the SEC on Friday, with detailed financials for the new company and details about other discussions that had been held with potential buyers in the past year and a half.

Jim Alling, chief operating officer of T-Mobile USA, said he did expect further consolidation in the U.S. market, although he suggested that the regulatory environment would need to change further for that to happen among the top four players.

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