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Sprint and T-Mobile to combine in deal that could reshape the U.S. wireless landscape

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T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere will head the merger and the company, which will be named T-Mobile. In a video announcement posted on Twitter, Legere said the new company will “create robust competition and lower prices across wireless, video and broadband” and lead the way to 5G technology.

“The new company will be able to light up a broad and deep 5G network faster than either company could separately,” a press release states. “T-Mobile deployed nationwide LTE twice as fast as Verizon and three times faster than AT&T, and the combined company is positioned to do the same in 5G with deep spectrum assets and network capacity.”

The combined enterprise value is projected to be $146 billion, of which Sprint’s total value will be about $59 billion. The two companies will merge at the equivalent of 9.75 Sprint shares for each T-Mobile share, the press release states.

The merged company’s headquarters will remain in Bellevue, Washington, where T-Mobile’s headquarters is located. CNBC reported before the merger that some Sprint executives would remain in the company.

Sprint dropped a bid for T-Mobile more than three years ago after running into concerns in the Obama administration about wireless competition. The two had been poised to combine in October, but that deal was called off, too.

Sprint and its owner, the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, have long been looking for a deal as the company has struggled to compete on its own.

Sprint has a lot of debt and has posted a string of annual losses. The company has cut costs and made itself more attractive to customers, BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk said, but it hasn’t invested enough in its network and doesn’t have enough airwave rights for quality service in rural areas.

Image: A Sprint store in New York
A Sprint store in New York.Andrew Kelly / Reuters

T-Mobile, meanwhile, has been on a yearslong streak of adding customers. After the government nixed AT&T’s attempt to buy the company in 2011, T-Mobile led the way in many consumer-friendly changes, such as ditching two-year contracts and bringing back unlimited data plans. Consumers are paying less for cellphone service, thanks to T-Mobile’s influence on the industry and the resultant price wars.

“T-Mobile does not need a merger with Sprint to succeed, but Sprint might need one to survive,” Piecyk wrote in a research note.

But MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said T-Mobile’s momentum is slowing, which may explain why the company and its parent, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, “have warmed to the idea of a merger sooner rather than later.”

The supersized company would have nearly as many wireless subscribers as Verizon and AT&T have now. T-Mobile and Sprint could save money by merging their networks and closing stores.

The Communications Workers of America, a union for telecommunication workers, says the merger will cost at least 20,000 U.S. jobs and reduce competition in wireless, bringing higher prices.

But the cost savings could help the combined company build infrastructure and buy rights to the airwaves needed for faster “5G” service that is expected to be up in running within the next few years.



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Russia: Momentum for protest is growing over Putin’s ‘palace’ and Navalny’s imprisonment | World News

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What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. An old maxim which may be giving some in Russia’s corridors of power pause for thought. 

That is what a botched poisoning attempt and a rush to incarcerate have done to the man President Putin refuses to call by name, Alexei Navalny.

The man who has courageously returned to Russia and into the hands of the authorities who he says tried to kill him – the Kremlin denies any association with his poisoning – because he cannot bear to stay silent in the face of their apparent lawlessness.

The momentum for protests is growing
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The momentum for protests is growing, writes Diana Magnay

The man who today brought more than a hundred thousand to the streets in town after city across Russia’s 11 time zones to demand his release from jail and for whom 2,500 people found themselves detained.

“Who needs him?” President Putin had said at his annual news conference just before Christmas, with a smirk.

Police responded to protests following Navalny's arrest
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Police responded to protests following Navalny’s arrest

He won’t have been laughing this Saturday as the chants and car horns blaring in Navalny’s support echoed down Moscow’s central avenue, Tverskaya, towards the Kremlin.

Or as the reports of protest from nearly 70 cities – from Sakhalin to Vladivostock, from Yakutsk to Novosibirsk to St Petersburg – flooded in.

More than 3,000 people were reportedly detained amid the rallies on Saturday, prompting the US and UK to condemn “the Russian authorities’ use of violence against peaceful protesters and journalists” as Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated.

Police link batons in Moscow
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Police link batons in Moscow as protesters took to the streets

“Putin is a thief” has been a rallying cry at Russian demonstrations for years, ever since the so-called Bolotnaya protests in 2012, the first major set of rallies against President Putin’s regime.

Navalny emerged from those frozen weeks of protest as an opposition figure of note but the years of harassment and persecution he has suffered without falter have given him a moral force which more and more of his countrymen are coming to recognise.

“One for all and all for one” was the script on one of the placards held up in Moscow on Saturday, with a photograph of Navalny on it. “He is not afraid and we aren’t either,” said another.

The rally in Moscow
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Hundreds of people were detained at the rally in Moscow. Pic: AP

Navalny’s investigation into the palatial residence he says belongs to President Putin on Russia’s Black Sea Coast has had 70 million views already.

It was only released on Tuesday. Pro-Navalny, protest-related content on the social media group TikTok was viewed 300 million times. But it was not only the younger, internet-savvy generation who came out this Saturday; all age groups, all demographics did.

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Navalny hits out at Putin again in video

The Kremlin has long insisted that Alexei Navalny is a marginal figure. Through a combination of their egregious missteps and his own extraordinary courage, his political currency is growing even as he sits in his prison cell, planning his next step.

This protest movement may have no short-term impact, and in all likelihood it will not secure Navalny’s release, but there is a momentum, a budding protest season in the making. Who knows where that could end up.

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Dutch police arrest alleged Asian drug syndicate kingpin | World News

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The alleged leader of an Asian drug syndicate and one of the world’s most-wanted fugitives has been arrested by Dutch police.

Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian national, was arrested at the request of Australian police, who led an investigation that found his organisation dominates the $70bn-a-year Asia-Pacific drug trade.

Dutch police spokesman Thomas Aling said Tse was detained without incident at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Friday “based on intelligence we received”.

He is expected to be extradited to Australia after an initial court appearance.

Tse, 57, has lived in Canada, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan in recent years, according to authorities.

According to Australian newspaper The Age, his arrest will also be welcomed by authorities in the US, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and across Europe, places which have all served as markets or supply hubs for his organisation.

The syndicate he allegedly helps control is an amalgam of once-competing Chinese Triad groups that have variously worked with Australian bikies, South American cartels and European crime bosses, the newspaper added.

Australian Federal Police say he is the senior leader of the syndicate – called The Company – and is referred to as “Sam Gor” (Brother Number Three in Cantonese).

In 2019, Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia and Pacific representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told Reuters that Tse is “in the league of (fellow drug kingpins) El Chapo or maybe Pablo Escobar”.

The AFP did not name Tse in its statement but said the man arrested “is of significant interest to the AFP and other law enforcement agencies”.

“The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime,” the agency said.

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‘Unacceptable’ vaccine delays cause frustration across European Union | World News

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European countries are growing increasingly frustrated with delays in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca told European Union officials that production problems will result in a 60% cut in deliveries of its Oxford vaccine to the bloc during the first quarter of this year.

This means EU member states will receive only 31 million doses during that period.

The Republic of Ireland said it may have to slow its vaccine rollout as a result of the shortage.

Micheal Martin, the Irish prime minister, told Irish broadcaster RTE that the delays would “put us in a problem”.

He added: “AstraZeneca was going to be the catalyst to be allowed to move from low level to mass vaccination.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine is yet to be approved by the European Medicines Agency, although it is expected to get regulatory approval next week.

European countries were already facing delays in shipments of the Pfizer vaccine while the pharmaceutical firm increases manufacturing capacity.

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‘No other nation has adopted’ 12-week approach

Also on Saturday, Italian prime minster Giuseppe Conte called the delays to the delivery of the Pfizer vaccine “unacceptable”.

Mr Conte wrote on Facebook that the delays “constitute serious contractual violations, which cause enormous damage to Italy and other European countries, with direct repercussions on the life and health of citizens”.

He also vowed to launch legal action against the pharmaceutical giant to ensure contractual commitments are met.

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