Judge Approves $26 Billion Sprint, T-Mobile Merger

A U.S. District Court Judge Feb. 11 approved the $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint — paving the way for an empowered telecommunications partnership that includes Dish Network and is aimed at competing against AT&T and Verizon.

The deal, which was approved by the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission, still requires a formal greenlight from the California Public Utilities Commission.

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U.S. Judge Victor Marrero, in his ruling, denied claims by several State Attorney Generals that the merger of the No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carriers would stifle competition and raise consumer rates, among other issues.

In addition, the Marrero dismissed concerns Dish Network wouldn’t be able to enter the market successfully as a wireless carrier. As part of the Sprint, T-Mobile deal, Dish agreed to acquire Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and other prepaid phone businesses for $5 billion.

Dish, which operates a satellite TV distribution business, has been looking to diversify its business, including launching online TV platform Sling TV.

“The resulting stalemate leaves the court lacking sufficiently impartial and objective ground on which to rely in basing a sound forecast of the likely competitive effects of a merger,” Marrero wrote in support of the deal.

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As part of the transaction, Sprint and T-Mobile said they would deploy a 5G nationwide network within three years of closing the deal.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has opposed the merger, said the deal thwarts consumer rights and fair pricing.

“We’ll stand on the side of competition over megamergers, every time,” Becerra said. “And our coalition is prepared to fight as long as necessary to protect innovation and competitive costs.”

Talent Firm Endeavor Acquires Video Streaming Company NeuLion

Digital media distribution company NeuLion and sports and entertainment talent firm Endeavor March 26 announced a merger agreement by which Endeavor will acquire NeuLion in an all-cash deal valued at about $250 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Endeavor will acquire each share of outstanding common stock of NeuLion for 84 cents a share. Upon completion of the transaction, Plainview, N.Y.-based NeuLion will become a privately held subsidiary of Beverley Hills, Calif.-based Endeavor.

The talent firm will use NeuLion to help clients expand streaming video distribution and monetizing opportunities.

“NeuLion provides an ideal combination of technology and client services, and we’re excited for the value this brings to our existing partners and the foundation it provides for our future digital growth,” Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, said in a statement.

The transaction, approved by NeuLion’s board of directors and by the written consent of holders of a majority of outstanding common stock, is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions. It is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.

“We’re excited by the value delivered to our stockholders through this transaction, and we’re looking forward to the dynamic opportunities that being part of the Endeavor family will provide for both our current and new clients,” said Roy Reichbach CEO of NeuLion.

NeuLion expects to release fourth-quarter 2017 earnings on March 30.