T-Mobile’s proposed $26 billion merger with Sprint is currently going nowhere due to the nation’s longest government shutdown. While the FCC’s review of the deal is suspended, other issues are coming up that could complicate what previously appeared to be a likely positive outcome for the companies.
An investigation by The Washington Post found that nine high-ranking T-Mobile executives stayed at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the day after the merger was announced, and the carrier’s top executives have continued to stay at the hotel since then.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere stayed at the Trump-owned hotel at least four times within seven weeks of the merger announcement, according to the report. Other executives including the chief operating, technical and financial officers have all stayed at the Trump-owned hotel, and one T-Mobile executive has visited the hotel at least 10 times.
The carrier’s business with the Trump International Hotel adds a new wrinkle to the mega-merger that would combine the nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless networks. Whether the visits were intended to generate support for the merger or not, the perception is real and creating new avenues for criticism. At least one FCC commissioner has already voiced concern via Twitter.
The messy relationship between Trump’s business and duties as president have been a recurring theme and point of contention for consumer advocacy groups and those who seek transparency and fairness in government. As the impasse over federal government spending continues with no end in sight, the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint is on hold and the potential for it unraveling widens. Regulatory delays combined with these attempts to possibly garner favor with the administration are creating new problems that could potentially break the deal’s chances of success.