The ax that fell on a merger between US carriers Sprint and T-Mobile in 2014 was one of a regulatory nature. The Obama administration was more critical of transactions that would reduce competition in business and the deal, it was thought, would not pass muster. But even with a President Trump in office who’s lax on regulation, a deal is not guaranteed.
With a second merger opportunity in rumored negotiations right now, Reuters reports that Sprint has hired Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm with strong support and ties to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Founder Brian Ballard has helped raised funds as a regional vice chair for the Republican National Committee and has personally donated to the Trump campaign. A member of the firm also managed the Florida leg of the current president’s campaign, but is not working on the Sprint account.
Ballard Partners will make the case on Sprint’s behalf on “general government policies and regulations,” according to congressional disclosure documents. If a merger deal is reached, it would come under scrutiny from the FCC, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Sprint’s Japanese parent company SoftBank, has attempted to curry favor with the leader with a pledge of creating 50,000 jobs in the US — consolidating two giant cellular operations will almost certainly result in mass redundancies — and nudging Foxconn’s CEO to get a factory in the United States.
And with another attempt at a corporate joining with Little Magenta, Son looks to build as much political capital as possible before cashing it in.