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The U.S. attorney general recuses himself from T-Mobile, Sprint merger probe

FILE PHOTO: U. S. Attorney General William Barr speaks during a news conference to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential race, in Washington, USA, April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General William Barr has recused himself from the Ministry of Justice to the deliberations on whether to allow T-Mobile to proceed with the $26 billion acquisition of Sprint, according to a source familiar with the decision.

The section of the Antitrust Division, under the direction of Makan Delrahim, is reviewing the deal to determine whether it will lead to higher prices for consumers, or slower innovation, as critics claim. The Federal Communications Commission must also approve the transaction for it to go forward.

The recusal was first reported by the New York Post.

In a file with the U. S. Office of Government Ethics in December, Barr acknowledged possession of a T-Mobile bond with a value of $15,001 to $50,000, and two other T-Mobile-bonds and Sprint bonds for a value of less than $ 1,001. That are sold within 90 days after the confirmation, which occurred on Feb. 14.

Barr had also recused himself from considering AT&T’s plan to buy Time Warner, that the government against, because of his involvement with these companies. That deal has closed.

T-Mobile announced on Monday that the companies are extending a deadline for their deal until July 29. The two are among only four national wireless carriers, trailing Verizon Communications and AT&T.

Supervisors are expected to take a decision on the deal in early June. They are with a potential loss of competition, and then higher prices for the consumer, with the prospect of a more powerful No. 3 wireless carrier, which can work to build a better, faster 5G next generation wireless network.

(This story, in paragraph 4, corrects … and two other T-Mobile-bonds and Sprint bonds for a value of less than € 1,001 … instead of T-Mobile notes, and a Sprint note).

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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