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Sprint, T-Mobile shares sink after report says talks off

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San Francisco (AFP)

Shares in Sprint and T-Mobile fell sharply Monday following a Japanese media report that merger talks between the third- and fourth-largest wireless operators had been called off.

T-Mobile fell 2.8 percent to $61.21 and Sprint, which is controlled by Japan's SoftBank, sank 4.6 percent to $6.65 at 1800 GMT.

Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei reported that the two carriers had called off talks aimed at creating a stronger competitor to top US carriers Verizon and AT&T.

The report said SoftBank and T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom failed to agree on terms of a tie-up.

The two firms had held talks in 2014 on a merger but ended discussions in the face of opposition from US regulators.

In the latest round, reports said the German parent group had insisted on a majority stake and that SoftBank did not want to cede control.

T-Mobile ranks third among US wireless carriers by subscribers, followed by Sprint in fourth place.

Together, the pair would have 131 million subscribers, which would see them virtually match second-ranked AT&T and pose stiff competition to market leader Verizon Communications.

SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son, who was among the first businessmen to meet President Donald Trump after his election victory last year, had been reportedly pushing for the tie-up as part of his effort to invest $50 billion in business and job-creation in the United States.

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