FRANKFURT Sprint and its controlling shareholder SoftBank have started preliminary conversations to merge with T-Mobile US, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission had barred merger talks among telecommunications companies for more than a year as it conducted a $19.8 billion auction of airwaves from broadcasters for wireless use.
Reuters reported in February that SoftBank was positioning itself for deal talks with Deutsche Telekom, which owns 64 percent of T-Mobile, once the auction was out of the way.
Deutsche Telekom, which shares rose as much as 3.5 percent on Friday on the news to a 17-month high of 17.30 euros, declined to comment on the report.
Sprint, SoftBank and T-Mobile US were not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Additional reporting by Peter Maushagen; Editing by Harro ten Wolde)