In an indication the deal is nearing the finish line, Dish Network said it would close its purchase of the Boost prepaid business from T-Mobile on July 1.
The company did not officially close the purchase, nor did it provide any of the parameters of the pending deal, including how many customers might be involved or the final price.
But the company's announcement – made via an SEC filing – represents Dish's intention to enter the wireless industry, first as an MVNO of T-Mobile and, potentially, as a nationwide 5G network operator.
It appears that the Department of Justice had to step in during the negotiations between T-Mobile and Dish to push the transaction forward. "On June 17, 2020, the Department of Justice (the 'DOJ') determined that T-Mobile has complied with the requirement in the final judgment entered by a federal district court in Washington, D.C. on April 1, 2020 (the 'Final Judgment') to provide Dish the ability to cross-provision any new or existing customer of the prepaid business with a compatible handset onto the T-Mobile network," T-Mobile wrote in its own SEC filing on the matter. "As a result, we believe all conditions to closing under the Asset Purchase Agreement (other than those conditions that can only be satisfied at closing) have been satisfied and, subject to the satisfaction of the conditions that must be satisfied at closing, the closing of the Prepaid Business Sale will occur on July 1, 2020."
The nod to the DoJ was included in T-Mobile's filing about the transaction but not Dish's filing. Fox Business' Charles Gasparino also reported Wednesday that, according to unnamed sources, the DoJ essentially forced Dish to close the transaction, halting Dish's Charlie Ergen from his attempts to gain last-minute concessions.
There has been speculation that Dish might attempt to back out of the agreements it made with T-Mobile and the DoJ in 2019 as it faces the prospect of entering the competitive wireless industry and spending billions of dollars building a 5G network. In that original 2019 agreement, Dish agreed to spend $1.4 billion to acquire roughly 10 million prepaid customers from Sprint, mainly on its Boost brand. Afterward, Dish would manage those customers as a T-Mobile MVNO while constructing a 5G network using its vast spectrum holdings.
Dish's MVNO with T-Mobile lasts seven years. After that, it would need to move all of its customers onto its own network.
DoJ officials constructed the transaction in 2019 to position Dish to replace Sprint as a fourth nationwide wireless provider in the US, following T-Mobile's acquisition of Sprint.
In other T-Mobile news, the company said it now expects total postpaid net customer additions of between 800,000 and 900,000 in its second quarter, up from a previous expectation of between 0 to 150,000. The company raised its guidance due to "a faster recovery in retail than expected." The company also announced that longtime CFO Braxon Carter will be replaced by Peter Osvaldik, T-Mobile's current SVP of finance and chief accounting officer. Carter's departure had been expected.