Deutsche Telekom ‘starts talks’ with SoftBank over US merger

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Reports say Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank already discussing merger of their US mobile operations

Deutsche Telekom has responded within hours to moves from SoftBank boss Masayoshi Son’s call this week to start talks on merging T-Mobile US with Sprint.

Son said in Tokyo on Wednesday that T-Mobile US, 65% owned by Deutsche Telekom, was the potential merger partner with the most synergies.

Now Bloomberg is quoted “people familiar with the matter” as saying that informal talks have started between the two companies. No other information is available, and Deutsche Telekom declined to comment.

A merged Sprint/T-Mobile US would have a roughly 30% combined market share, compared with AT&T and Verizon at about 34% each.

Meanwhile SoftBank this morning became the biggest investor in a $502 million funding round in UK-based five-year-old virtual reality software company Improbable.

Series A investors Andreessen Horowitz, Horizons Ventures and Temasek are also investing in the series B round. California-based Deep Nishar, managing director of SoftBank Group International, has joined the Improbable board following the investment, which sees SoftBank taking a non-controlling stake in the company.

“We believe that the next major phase in computing will be the emergence of large-scale virtual worlds which enrich human experience and change how we understand the real world,” said Improbable CEO Herman Narula. “At Improbable we have spent the last few years building the foundational infrastructure for this vision.”