Deutsche Telekom, the German telecommunications giant, is considering making an offer to acquire struggling Sprint Nextel, according to...

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Deutsche Telekom, the German telecommunications giant, is considering making an offer to acquire struggling Sprint Nextel, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Such an acquisition, The Journal reported, would make T-Mobile USA, the Bellevue-based wireless carrier owned by Deutsche Telekom, the largest carrier in the U.S.

The Journal, attributing the report to people familiar with the matter, said Deutsche Telekom’s deliberations “are at an early stage, and management may very well turn away.”

Separately, Bloomberg News also reported on its Web site that Deutsche Telekom is “analyzing a possible takeover” of Sprint Nextel. Bloomberg’s report attributed the story to Der Spiegel, the German magazine.

Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kan., is the No. 3-ranking U.S. wireless carrier based on its 53.8 million subscribers at the end of 2007. T-Mobile USA is No. 4, with 28.7 million.

Each trails market leaders AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

Sprint has stumbled over the past year, losing customers and seeing its stock price decline sharply. Shares closed Friday at $7.89, which compares with a 52-week high of $23.42.

Chief Executive Gary Forsee was ousted in October as the company struggled with a series of challenges, particularly problems with Sprint’s integration with Nextel Communications, which it acquired in 2005.

Forsee was replaced by former Seattle-area telecommunications executive Dan Hesse.

T-Mobile USA is an outgrowth of VoiceStream Wireless, a company cofounded by John Stanton, a prominent wireless communications executive in the Seattle area. Deutsche Telekom purchased VoiceStream in 2000.

T-Mobile USA is a relatively strong performer in the Deutsche Telekom stable of wireless carriers.