S/TMUS: Claims of Improper Influence over the DOJ Resurface Amid SoftBank Investment Pledge

Event Driven Takeaways

  • As the Department of Justice reviews the Sprint/T-Mobile proposed merger, questions surrounding whether the Trump administration is improperly influencing the DOJ have resurfaced – particularly following a court’s ruling that cleared the way for AT&T’s merger with Time Warner. Antitrust observers, including a former DOJ attorney, noted that Delrahim is a “political player” with relatively little antitrust experience.
  • With SoftBank’s pledge to invest billions in the U.S. technology industry, antitrust observers also say the administration could be attempting to pressure the division to clear T-Mobile’s purchase of SoftBank-owned Sprint. Last week SoftBank reportedly pledged another $22 billion in investments – on top of its previous $50 billion pledge.
  • Two former members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle, Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, and Reince Priebus, his former chief of staff, are reportedly working for T-Mobile to clear the deal.

As the Department of Justice reviews the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, questions surrounding whether the administration is improperly influencing the Antitrust Division’s head Makan Delrahim have resurfaced, particularly following court approval of the Time Warner/AT&T tie-up. And while antitrust observers say that the separation between the administration and the DOJ should remain in place, it’s clear that the companies are attempting to curry favor with the administration in order to win approval with the DOJ. Delr