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T-Mobile execs find 'silver lining' in merger court challenge

T-Mobile US Inc. executives said the company shares more similarities than differences with the coalition of state attorneys general moving to block its merger with Sprint Corp.

Speaking at the UBS Global TMT Conference on Dec. 10, T-Mobile President and COO Mike Sievert said enhanced competition and better consumer experience as a result of the merger should adequately settle concerns about T-Mobile's commitment to its business strategy following the merger.

"As best we can tell, the plaintiff states are very interested in making sure this market has more competition, and so are we," Sievert said. "They're interested in making sure that this market is great for workers. So are we." Sievert is slated to succeed John Legere as CEO in May 2020.

A multistate lawsuit, led by New York and California, is underway in a federal district court in New York. The lawsuit alleges the merger would harm innovation and lead to higher prices for consumers. Fourteen attorneys general, also representing Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, are attempting to stop the merger. With approvals already secured from federal regulators, the trial is believed to be the last major regulatory or legal hurdle for the deal.

While the delay on closing the deal has been "frustrating," it has provided T-Mobile with ample time to craft its market strategy for the combined entity, T-Mobile Executive Vice President and CFO Braxton Carter said at the Dec. 10 event.

"It is a major silver lining," he said. "We're just ready to execute now."

According to a scheduling order by the court, the parties have committed to a two-week trial, with defendants having the right to seek a third week. The trial began Dec. 9 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.