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SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son

Sprint and T-Mobile shares fell Monday, on a Japanese media report that SoftBank is prepared to pull the plug on a proposed merger between the two carriers. Per the Nikkei news service:

"SoftBank Group plans to break off negotiations on a merger between subsidiary Sprint and T-Mobile US amid a failure to agree on ownership of the combined entity."

Why it matters: Combining Sprint and T-Mobile would radically transform the U.S. wireless market, creating a more formidable adversary for Verizon and AT&T but reducing the number of overall competitors.

Surprise, surprise: Earlier reports had suggested that the merger was gaining momentum, so this is a shock to the M&A system. Particularly the notion of the bullet being fired by Sprint owner SoftBank, as there was a sense that CEO Masayoshi Son had been publicly supportive of President Trump in order to better the deal's chances of regulatory approval.

Caveat: Don't underestimate Son or the possibility that SoftBank "walking away" is a negotiating tactic. Axios has reached out to a SoftBank spokesperson, and will update this post if we receive comment.

Go deeper: How a Sprint, T-Mobile merger could jolt wireless

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

Scoop: Ukraine gives U.S. senators 4 specific asks

Zelensky. Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

The chairman of Ukraine's parliament has sent a letter to eight U.S. senators outlining four specific requests for security assistance and sanctions that Kyiv believes will help deter a Russian invasion, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Ukrainian government is leaning on Congress — and a bipartisan group of senators negotiating compromise language on sanctions that could pass the Senate — in an effort to push the U.S. posture beyond the Biden administration's approach.

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a powerful and potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring an array of hazards, from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten coastal property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.