Charter Rebuffs Sprint Overtures

Says will stick to MVNO agreement with Verizon
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Almost as soon as they began, any hopes of a Sprint merger with Charter Communications were quashed after the cable company said it had no interest in combining with the struggling wireless provider, preferring instead to stick with an existing Mobile Virtual Network Operator agreement with Verizon Communications.

Charter had inherited the MVNO after its purchase of Time Warner Cable in May 2016. The company had expected to launch a wireless service over Verizon’s network next year.

Talk of the new deal came as an exclusive negotiating period, largely believed to be around another MVNO, between Sprint, Comcast and Charter expired. Earlier this year Sprint and Comcast entered into a wireless partnership agreement that in part prohibited either company from making a transformational wireless deal for one year without the other’s consent.

In a statement, Charter spokesman Alex Dudley said the cable operator has “no interest” in a deal with Sprint.

“We understand why a deal is attractive for Softbank, but Charter has no interest in acquiring Sprint,” Dudley said in the statement.  “We have a very good MVNO relationship with Verizon and intend to launch wireless services to cable customers next year.”

On Friday the Wall Street Journal reported Sprint had approached Charter about a possible deal.

The proposed hookup with Charter seemed heavily skewed toward Sprint to begin with. The Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter said the combined company would become a separate publicly traded entity that would be controlled by Sprint’s parent, Japanese wireless company SoftBank. That kind of structure seemed odd given Charter would be the larger entity and one of Charter’s largest shareholders, Liberty Media chairman John Malone, would seem loathe to cede control.

The Journal said while the combination is effectively squashed, sources said SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son could make a formal offer later on anyway.