Sept. 26--Sprint Corp.'s top financial officer came out in favor of three big wireless carriers instead of the four national player landscape in place today.
Joe Euteneuer, chief financial officer of Overland Park-based Sprint, seemed to echo comments his counterpart at T-Mobile made Wednesday at the same conference in New York.
Euteneuer said there is "no doubt in my mind" that three similarly sized national wireless companies would be more competitive than the four today, according to an account by equity analyst Jennifer Fritzsche at Wells Fargo.
Sprint at No. 3 and T-Mobile at No. 4 trail industry leaders Verizon and AT&T in the number of subscribers they have.
Fritzsche noted that Euteneuer balked at the question of whether Washington would go along with a big merger in the industry.
An online report by Wireless Week said Euteneuer "coyly referenced thoughts of a Sprint and T-Mobile combination" and called it "highly debated." Wireless Week's report added his notion that three would be more competitive than four.
The comments followed Wednesday's unexpectedly candid session by T-Mobile's chief financial officer Braxton Carter. He had said that a Sprint merger with T-Mobile is the "logical ultimate combination," according to Reuters.
Carter also said consolidation in the industry was inevitable and, that if it led to a much larger No. 3 carrier to rival leaders Verizon and AT&T, then it would make the market more competitive.
In 2011, Washington officials blocked a $39 billion deal in which AT&T would have acquired T-Mobile largely over competition concerns. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse had led the battle to block that deal.
Washington's action then leaves open the question whether a merger between No. 3 Sprint and No. 4 T-Mobile would pass muster.
It's not difficult to see this week's remarks from the companies' financial executives as an effort to soften the beaches for a run at a deal.
Sprint officials had declined Wednesday to comment on Carter's remarks.
Shares of Sprint were up 6 cents at $6.25 and T-Mobile shares 17 cents at $26.25 in morning trading.
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Original headline: Sprint executive echoes T-Mobile's merger message
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