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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

T-Mobile and Sprint have closed their merger, the newly combined companies announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The deal — initiated nearly two years ago — brings together the nation's No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carriers under the T-Mobile name. Critics have said that the combination will reduce competition, even with concessions the companies made to win Justice Department approval.

Details: The combined entity will use the T-Mobile name and trade under the TMUS ticker. T-Mobile shares were up modestly as markets opened Wednesday.

  • T-Mobile CEO John Legere is also ceding his role to COO Mike Sievert a month early, the company said. That transition, originally slated for May 1, is effective immediately.
  • Legere, who led a turnaround characterized by aggressive subscriber growth and unconventional service offerings since taking the reins in 2012, will stay on the T-Mobile board through June.

Background: The largest obstacles were removed when T-Mobile reached a deal with the Justice Department and a federal court blocked a legal challenge from a number of states. The companies said in the wake of the court ruling that they aimed to close the deal as soon as April 1.

  • As part of the Justice Department deal, T-Mobile agreed to divest certain prepaid assets to Dish Network and to provide network access and other components designed to allow Dish to become a fourth national wireless provider.
  • T-Mobile also agreed to various conditions with several states, including agreements to maintain certain rate plans and staffing levels.
  • Sprint and T-Mobile were still awaiting formal approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, but on Wednesday they filed paperwork to withdraw part of the application — the wireline business over which the commission has clear jurisdiction. The real competition concerns, though, are over the wireless business, regulation of which is largely done at the federal level.

Of note: A number of banks that had agreed to provide $23 billion in financing (with hopes of offloading some of the risk as debt to investors) are now fully on the hook amid changes in the markets due to the coronavirus.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.