The marriage between T-Mobile and Sprint may be over before it even begins.
Sprint's parent company, Japanese carrier SoftBank, plans to break off merger talks, according to a new report from Nikkei. The publication cited a dispute over ownership of the combined entity.
SoftBank may approach T-Mobile's parent company, German carrier Deutsche Telekom, as early as Tuesday to end the deal, Nikkei said. It added that the two companies had reached a broad pact but haven't agreed who would control the combined company. Deutsche Telekom reportedly had insisted on a controlling stake, something SoftBank initially was open to but then reconsidered, Nikkei said.
A possible merger between T-Mobile and Sprint has been rumored for years but has failed to materialize. The two companies lag behind their bigger rivals, Verizon Wireless and AT&T, when it comes to the US market. Combining would give them an advantage, but critics fear having three players would reduce competition and hurt consumers.
Deutsche Telekom said it doesn't comment on rumors and speculation. Sprint, T-Mobile and SoftBank didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
Update at 1 p.m. PT with Deutsche Telekom comment.
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