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Sprint Deal Watchers Should Look at Trump Tax Ruling for Clues

Joshua Fineman

(Bloomberg) -- A federal court’s decision Monday to force President Donald Trump to turn over his tax returns may have ramifications outside of politics, and turn out to be a signal on how a judge may rule in the multistate lawsuit seeking to block T-Mobile US Inc.’s purchase of Sprint Corp.

Judge Victor Marrero’s ruling on Trump’s taxes suggests that when he presides over the telecom mega-merger, he may not defer to the Department of Justice and Federal Communication Commission’s support for the phone company combination, New Street analyst Blair Levin said in an email. Instead, he will rule on the law when the court hearing about the deal begins in early December in Washington, and it may not be so predictable.

“For those on Wall Street -- and there were many -- who believed that the judge was likely to defer to the judgment of the DOJ (and FCC), today’s ruling should be a data point to rethink that view,” said Levin, a former FCC chief of staff. “Today’s ruling suggests to me he is a very thorough, thoughtful judge whose decision will be carefully grounded in the law and facts. Reasonable minds can differ as to where that will lead him in the antitrust trial, but simple deference to the DOJ’s conclusion is not the likely path.”

Levin’s assessment is similar to that of attorney Matthew Cantor, who told the New Street analyst last month that while the judge will weigh evidence about the DOJ and FCC decisions, he’s unlikely to defer to those agencies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joshua Fineman in New York at jfineman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at clarkin4@bloomberg.net, Brad Olesen

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