NEW YORK (Reuters) - The next head of Verizon Communications <VZ.N> expects U.S. regulators to approve rival AT&T Inc's <T.N> proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA due to the company's need for more wireless airwaves.
"I'd say the merger will probably go through. It's a merger AT&T probably had to do," Verizon Chief Operating Officer Lowell McAdam said in a webcast of the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference.
McAdam, who is slated to become chief executive of Verizon by year end, said the deal made sense for AT&T, which needs more wireless airwaves, and that the only surprising aspect was that it did not happen sooner.
In contrast, Sprint Nextel <S.N>, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service, has been loudly urging U.S. regulators to reject the AT&T/ T-Mobile USA deal for fear of damage to competition.
The acquisition will vault No. 2 U.S. mobile service AT&T and No. 4 U.S. mobile service T-Mobile USA well ahead of current market leader Verizon Wireless.
Verizon Wireless is a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc <VOD.L>. T-Mobile USA is a unit of Deutsche Telekom <DTEGn.DE>.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Matthew Lewis)