DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim remains open to a T-Mobile-Sprint deal


U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on the enforcement of antitrust laws in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill October 03, 2018 in Washington, DC. 

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Despite reports that Department of Justice staff are leaning towards recommending that the $26.5 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint be blocked, Makan Delrahim, head of the antitrust division, still has not made up his mind and appears to remain open to a potential deal, sources told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Delrahim remains in conversation with the companies, these sources told Sorkin, and may be trying to find a way to support a deal despite his staff’s opposition.

Discussions about possible remedies are ongoing. But what kind of remedies — beyond what the companies committed to as part of a deal with the Federal Communications Commission — remain unclear.

Shares of Sprint were moving about 4% higher in premarket trading following Sorkin’s report. T-Mobile shares were gaining about 1%.

Earlier this week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, elevated to the top post by President Donald Trump in 2017, said he plans to recommend his agency approve the merger after the companies committed to not raising prices for three years.

It’s possible, according to Sorkin’s reporting, that the DOJ could push for more years on no price hikes, for example.

The previous presidential administration of Barack Obama rebuffed earlier efforts by the companies to merge, as well as an attempted deal between AT&T and T-Mobile, on concerns that such deals would hurt competition in the wireless industry.

— AP contributed to this report.



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