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Sprint, T-Mobile US shares rise on report that they are close to completing merger terms

Reuters says T-Mobile and its majority owner, Deutsche Telekom, are finalizing a debt package to fund the deal

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Combination of two wireless carriers would create a bigger competitor for Verizon, AT&T

Wireless carriers T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE:TMUS) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE:S) have made progress in negotiating merger terms and are looking to complete deal talks as early as next week, according to a report from Reuters

Reuters cites people familiar with the talks in saying that Deutsche Telekom, which already owns more than 63% of T-Mobile, and T-Mobile are also in the process of finalizing the debt financing package they will use to finance the deal. SoftBank owns nearly 85% of Sprint.

Word of the deal's possible conclusion sent shares of Sprint and T-Mobile higher in early trading. Sprint was up 7%, to US$6.42 a share, and T-Mobile rose about 2%, to US$65.50. 

Reuters said the sources cautioned that there is no certainty a deal will be finalized. It noted that the companies came close to a merger agreement last November before SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son pulled out of the talks at the last minute.

According to Reuters, a combined Sprint/T-Mobile would have more than 127mln customers, which would create a more formidable competition for the top two U.S. wireless companies, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).

Reuters said Sprint, T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom and SoftBank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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