By Alina Selyukh and Sinead Carew
(Reuters) - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler expressed his scepticism about a potential merger between Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc in a meeting with Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son on Monday, according to an FCC official briefed on the matter.
Son, chief executive at Tokyo-based SoftBank Corp, which acquired Sprint last year, met with the top U.S. telecommunications regulator alongside Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse.
Wheeler told Son and Hesse he was highly sceptical of the potential bid by No. 3 wireless provider Sprint to acquire No. 4 rival T-Mobile, according to the FCC official, who was not present at the meeting.
Wheeler said he would keep an open mind about the potential transaction, according to the official, and generally echoed comments made last week by antitrust chief William Baer, who gave long odds to a regulatory approval of mergers between any two of the top four wireless phone companies.
Sprint has been trying to convince U.S. regulators that the prospect of more U.S. mobile industry consolidation should not be dismissed without a fair review, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Sprint's argument is that the current market isn't serving U.S. consumers well because the two top players Verizon Communications Inc AT&T Inc are so dominant that it makes sustainable competition from the other two players very challenging, the person said.
A Sprint spokesman declined comment on Monday. The FCC does not comment on merger speculation. FCC chiefs routinely meet with industry executives in sessions that often cover a wide range of topics.
A SoftBank spokesman in Tokyo declined to comment. Separately, a person close to SoftBank said: "I'm not unduly surprised by the FCC chairman's scepticism. I feel it's a rather typical reaction."
Son's SoftBank has recently been in talks to acquire T-Mobile, itself controlled by Deutsche Telekom.
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh in Washington and Sinead Carew in New York; Additional reporting by Maki Shiraki in Tokyo; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Cynthia Osterman and Kenneth Maxwell)