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Judge grants delay in Sprint, C Spire cases over T-Mobile deal

Wed, 12/14/2011 - 2:53pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

A judge has agreed to postpone legal proceedings in Sprint and C Spire Wireless' lawsuits challenging AT&T's merger with T-Mobile USA as AT&T decides whether to abandon the deal.

The companies had first asked the court to delay the start of the trial until after the Justice Department's antitrust suit over the transaction got underway. Yesterday, they asked that pretrial and trial deadlines for the cases be vacated altogether, including a hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

Judge Ellen Huvelle, who is overseeing the cases, agreed to the proposal.

AT&T had first pushed for an expedited hearing but now wants to put off legal matters as it tries to salvage the deal.

The delay in Sprint's lawsuit mirrors an earlier order temporarily halting progress in the Justice Department's antitrust suit over the transaction. AT&T has until Jan. 12 to tell the court in both cases whether it intends to forge ahead with the T-Mobile deal.

Status conferences to determine how to proceed in both the DOJ's suit and Sprint's case are set for Jan. 18.

AT&T already has withdrawn its FCC application for the merger and booked a $4 billion termination fee for the transaction in its fourth-quarter earnings, a concession the deal could fail.

The operator has faced opposition to the $39 billion deal from both the FCC and DOJ on the grounds that it would hurt competition. The FCC also said the acquisition would result in "massive" job losses if it were allowed to proceed, a claim AT&T disputes.

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