May 12, 2017 / 9:45 AM / 2 years ago

Sprint, SoftBank start early deal talks over T-Mobile: BBG

The logo of U.S. mobile network operator Sprint Corp is seen at a Sprint store in San Marcos, California August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake /File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Sprint and its controlling shareholder SoftBank have started preliminary conversations to merge with T-Mobile US, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission had barred merger talks among telecommunications companies for more than a year as it conducted a $19.8 billion auction of airwaves from broadcasters for wireless use.

Reuters reported in February that SoftBank was positioning itself for deal talks with Deutsche Telekom, which owns 64 percent of T-Mobile, once the auction was out of the way.

Deutsche Telekom, which shares rose as much as 3.5 percent on Friday on the news to a 17-month high of 17.30 euros, declined to comment on the report.

Sprint, SoftBank and T-Mobile US were not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Additional reporting by Peter Maushagen; Editing by Harro ten Wolde

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