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Sprint, Nextel close merger deal

By , IDG News Service
August 12, 2005 07:46 PM ET

IDG News Service - Sprint and Nextel on Friday formally closed the merger they announced last Dec. 15 , forming a mobile telecommunications behemoth called Sprint Nextel.

The new company, with about 44 million subscribers, will have its corporate headquarters in Nextel's home of Reston, Va., and its operational base in Overland Park, Ka., which was Sprint's home base. Shares in Sprint Nextel, with the ticker symbol S, will begin trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, the company said in a statement Friday.

The "merger of equals" was the second big deal in the consolidation of the U.S. mobile market over the past two years. Cingular Wireless' acquisition of AT&T Wireless Services closed last October . There are now four major national mobile operators, led in subscriber numbers by Cingular, which claims more than 50 million subscribers, followed by Verizon Wireless with 45.5 million, according to its Web site. Sprint Nextel is third largest. The only other major national provider, T-Mobile USA, has about 18.2 million subscribers and has been seen by some as a potential takeover target.

Meanwhile, mobile takeover fever has been matched in the wired world, with SBC's purchase of AT&T, announced in January, and the bidding war for MCI, which Verizon appears to have won. SBC's deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, and Verizon's perhaps in the first half.

Sprint Nextel will use the Sprint corporate brand, but there will be a line of Nextel products sold in Sprint stores. The company initially will operate two different types of wireless networks, Sprint's CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) infrastructure and Nextel's iDEN (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) system. The combined company will continue to invest in and expand its iDEN network through 2007 and is looking at opportunities to market it to governments and public safety organizations, a Nextel executive said last December.

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