AT&T Must Be Given Updated Data by Sprint, U.S. Court Rules
Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) must provide AT&T Inc. with updated internal documents relevant to AT&T’s defense against a U.S. lawsuit seeking to block its purchase of T-Mobile USA Inc., a federal court ruled.
Sprint must turn over all documents requested by AT&T that the wireless carrier hasn’t already given the Justice Department, including data on its recent addition of Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone, U.S. Special Master Richard Levie in Washington said in a ruling yesterday. Levie gave Sprint until Nov. 21 to meet AT&T’s requests.
“AT&T is entitled to discover what effect the iPhone and other events of the past few months have had on Sprint’s relevant market share, a part of the government’s” case, Levie said, adding that the documents Sprint gave the Justice Department are more than six months old.
AT&T in a filing last week in U.S. District Court listed 47 areas of interest, including whether Sprint had any plans for a “business combination” with T-Mobile in the event the AT&T transaction is blocked. AT&T says it needs the documents to defend against the Justice Department’s antitrust suit to stop the $39 billion transaction.
Levie noted in his ruling yesterday that 29 requests had remained in dispute between the companies. Of those, 11 involved supplementing information Sprint gave to the Justice Department to include data from May to the present. Three requests also seek data from May 2009 to April 2010 regarding Sprint’s wireless plan pricing and “specialized customers.”
Levie also said Sprint must turn over any information given to the Federal Communications Commission regarding the T-Mobile deal that hadn’t been given to the Justice Department.
AT&T also requested Sprint’s analysis of the merger and information on Sprint’s bids for government contracts over the past three years, the identities of Sprint’s business and government customers, and the number and location of proposed cell sites that Sprint planned at some point to deploy and abandoned.
Sprint urged Levie to throw out AT&T’s subpoenas, saying its rival’s requests are “overlapping” and “burdensome.” Sprint argued that AT&T already has more than two million pages of documents from Sprint that the company had earlier given to the Justice Department.
Levie, who is handling decisions on document exchanges in the case, told Dallas-based AT&T last month to remove from its request any documents Sprint already provided to the Justice Department. He said yesterday the data sought by AT&T would result in about another 440,000 pages of documents.
Michael Balmoris, a spokesman for AT&T, did not immediately respond to e-mail messages seeking comment on the ruling.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, who will decide the case, has scheduled the trial for February.
The Justice Department sued AT&T and Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE)’s T-Mobile unit on Aug. 31, saying a combination of the two companies would “substantially” reduce competition. Seven states and Puerto Rico joined the effort to block the deal, which would make AT&T the biggest U.S. wireless carrier.
AT&T is also defending against private antitrust lawsuits objecting to the deal filed by Sprint and Cellular South Inc. Huvelle hasn’t decided when those cases will be tried.
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