Sprint Signals End to T-Mobile Bidding

BERLIN (The Deal) -- Sprint (S) on Tuesday appointed Marcelo Claure as the company's new CEO and indicated it would end its run at T-Mobile USA (PCS), putting a question mark over the future of Deutsche Telekom AG's U.S. division.

Claure, 43, will take over Aug. 11 from Dan Hesse, who has led Sprint since 2007. Claure founded Brightstar Corp., which Sprint backer Softbank bought control of last year for $1.26 billion.

Softbank, the Japanese phone company, had hoped to link Sprint and T-Mobile to create a weighty competitor to AT&T (T) and Verizon Communications (VZ), the two biggest cellular providers. But U.S. regulators are hesitant to see the market cut to three competitors from four and are especially wary of seeing T-Mobile, a cut-rate competitor, disappear. Regulators famously quashed AT&T's 2011 approach for T-Mobile for the same reason.

Sprint's shares collapsed 16.8%, or $1.22, to $6.06 while T-Mobile shares fell 8%, or $2.71, to $31.19. Deutsche Telekom's stock slipped 1.8%, or 0.21 euro, to 11.565 euros ($15.44) in Frankfurt. Softbank lost 3.5%, or 253 yen, to 6,972 yen ($67.93) in Tokyo and would-be T-Mobile suitor Iliad SA fell 6.5%, or 12.35 euros, to 176.65 euros in France.

An end to Sprint's interest puts the focus on upstart French mobile provider Iliad, which just days ago confirmed its interest in its U.S. peer. Iliad wants to pay $15 billion to buy 56.6% of T-Mobile from Bonn's Deutsche Telekom, but analysts see little benefit.

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