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October 12, 2012

Japan's Softbank Considering 70-Percent Stake in Sprint

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

As troubled U.S. wireless carrier Sprint (News - Alert) looks around for something to boost its flagging fortunes, it seems it has found a large ally. Japanese mobile carrier Softbank is confirmed to be in advanced talks to buy about 70 percent of Sprint, offering a multibillion-dollar helping hand that could help the carrier regain its competitive edge in the U.S.

Reuters reported last week that Softbank (News - Alert) plans to shell out about $12.8 billion for the stake in Sprint, and that Softbank could theoretically use Sprint as a vehicle to acquire another U.S. mobile provider, MetroPCS Communications, in a two-step deal that could cost more than $25 billion in total.

Sprint has issued a statement confirming the talks.

“Sprint today confirmed that it is currently engaged in discussions with Softbank regarding a potential substantial investment by Softbank in Sprint,” said a spokesperson. “Although there can be no assurances that these discussions will result in any transaction or on what terms any transaction may occur, such a transaction could involve a change of control of Sprint. Sprint does not intend to comment further unless and until an agreement is reached."

Softbank, long headed by CEO Masayoshi Son, has nearly 30.5 million subscribers across Japan, making it one of the largest carriers in that country. According to the company's corporate data page, Softbank currently has over 177 billion yen (about $2.3 billion) in capital, so it's possible the company might use its stockpile to help fund the massive Sprint deal, reported CNet.

Edited by Braden Becker
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