MetroPCS shareholders okay merger with T-Mobile USA

The merger of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS cleared its last major hurdle on Wednesday as MetroPCS shareholders overwhelmingly approved the deal.

The merger, first proposed last October, had faced opposition from some large shareholders until T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom offered earlier this month to reduce the amount of debt the merged entity would hold and the interest rate on the debt.

At a meeting on Wednesday that had been postponed in light of the changed offer, MetroPCS shareholders voted to approve a transaction in which they will receive $1.5 billion cash, or $4.06 per share, and about 26 percent ownership in the new company.

T-Mobile will remain the fourth-largest mobile operator in the U.S. but will gain about 9 million customers, for a total of about 42 million. Both companies are focused on value-priced services and will remain so as a combined company.

The combination comes amid a broad reshuffling of the underdog carriers going up against Verizon Wireless and AT&T in the U.S. mobile industry. No. 3 carrier Sprint Nextel is weighing a takeover by Japan’s Softbank and a buyout of the rest of Clearwire, while Dish Network is also attempting to buy Sprint and Clearwire.

Shareholders on Wednesday voted 296,521,190 to 21,194,467 in favor of the main proposal for the transaction, with 854,123 abstentions. The other 10 proposals were also approved. The deal is expected to formally close on April 30.

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