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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

Fed chair says low interest rates aren't driving stock market prices

Jerome Powell. Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / Getty Images

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told reporters on Wednesday that rock-bottom interest rates aren't playing a role in driving stock prices higher, while noting that vulnerabilities to the financial system are "moderate."

Why it matters: The statement comes amid unshakeable stock prices and a Reddit-fueled market frenzy — prompting widespread fears of a bubble and the role monetary policy has played in that.

2 hours ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Coalition.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).