MetroPCS Communications Inc., the country’s fifth-largest cellphone carrier, said its shareholders have overwhelmingly approved the company’s takeover by No. 4 T-Mobile USA.

Wednesday’s approval was expected after T-Mobile sweetened its bid and major shareholders withdrew their objections. T-Mobile’s initial offer was approved by MetroPCS’ board, but shareholders and shareholder advisory firms called it inadequate.

Nick Lamplough, a spokesman for MetroPCS, said shareholders voted for the deal at their special meeting in Richardson, Texas, on Wednesday morning.
MetroPCS said the deal is expected to be completed next Tuesday.

The deal is intended to produce a stronger combined company worth about $16 billion and with 43 million devices on its wireless network. By combining the space allocated to each company on the airwaves, the new company should be able to deliver faster wireless data downloads, a crucial competitive factor.

“We are thrilled that MetroPCS stockholders voted to approve this transaction, which delivers strategic and financial benefits,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a statement. “A combined T-Mobile and MetroPCS will unite two companies with one common vision: challenge the status quo and deliver exceptional wireless experiences for our customers.”

The deal gives MetroPCS shareholders 26 percent of the combined company. T-Mobile’s German parent, Deutsche Telekom AG, will own the rest. Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile lacks a stock listing in the U.S., but the new company will keep MetroPCS’ stock listing.

The transaction adds more than 9 million prepaid customers to T-Mobile, as well as wireless spectrum needed to provide faster data services to compete with market leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. T-Mobile lost 13 percent of its contract customers between 2009 and 2012 as it lagged behind peers in constructing faster networks and offering Apple Inc.’s iPhone. As T-Mobile began to offer the device this month, Chief Executive Officer John Legere will have to show that a strategy of scrapping long-term contracts will win back subscribers.

The carrier, which has earmarked network investments of $4.8 billion this year, last month switched on its own high- speed service using the long-term evolution technology.
For Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann, the shareholder approval brings into reach a successful conclusion of years of travel and negotiations to find a solution for the company’s U.S. business. A $39 billion agreement to sell T-Mobile to AT&T collapsed in 2011 because of opposition by regulators.

This deal has all requisite regulatory approvals. It’s part of a ferment of deal-making in the lower ranks of the U.S. wireless industry. Struggling No. 3 carrier Sprint Nextel Corp. has two acquisition offers, from Dish Network Corp. and Softbank Corp. of Japan, and is in turn set to buy network operator Clearwire Corp.

(Bloomberg News and The Associated Press contributed to this report)