Management of Sprint (S) - Get Report and T-Mobile (TMUS) - Get Report did nothing to dispel rumors that the wireless carriers would explore a merger during separate presentations at an investor conference in Boston on Monday.
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said a combination of the two would create a "a turbocharged maverick" that would approach current leaders AT&T (T) - Get Report and Verizon (VZ) - Get Report in scale at JPMorgan's (JPM) - Get Report telecom, media and technology conference.
T-Mobile has floated estimates that the companies would reap $30 billion in savings and other benefits by combining with Sprint. However, Claure told investors he believes the benefits would be "significantly more than that."
Both stocks gained among the merger buzz. Sprint rose 1.2% to $8.17 on Monday, while T-Mobile's stock gained 1.3% to $67.22.
Earlier in the day, T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter said that the wireless industry is going through big changes.
"It's silly to think that this is only a four-player market at this point," Carter said.
Comcast (CMCSA) - Get Report just started reselling Verizon's wireless service under its own brand. And Charter (CHTR) - Get Report has a similar deal in the works with Verizon, and also that the company would jointly explore wireless opportunities with Comcast for one year.
"You have Comcast, amazing resources, amazing capabilities who've just launched their offering," Carter said. "We have the news of a coalition to discuss possible partnering relationships between Comcast and Charter, for Charter's entry into a business."
Jim Cramer and the Action Alerts Plus team recently discussed Comcast's move into wireless. Get a free trial subscription to Action Alerts PLUS.
Ergen has been one of the true mavericks in the wireless business in recent years, spending billions on wireless spectrum in government auctions and bankruptcy cases. Recall, too, that Dish challenged Softbank's $21.6 billion purchase of a controlling stake in Sprint in 2013.
"Really looking forward to Charlie's presentation tomorrow, [to] see if there is any validity to this Amazon-Dish potential partnership," Carter said.
A merger of T-Mobile and Sprint would be massive. After Monday's gains, T-Mobile's market cap stood at $55.8 billion, while Sprint's was $32.6 billion.
Claure discussed approaches to financing a potential deal.
"It depends on who remains in control," Claure said, noting the different styles between T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom and Softbank founder Masayoshi Son, which is the majority owner of Sprint.
"The Germans are a little bit more conservative," the Sprint CEO said, suggesting that Deutsche Telekom would want to take on less debt that Softbank's Son, who is more financially aggressive.
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