UPDATED: SoftBank, Japan’s third-largest mobile carrier, is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire a controlling stake in Sprint, according to several different news reports. SoftBank hasn’t confirmed the deal and is reportedly “checking the facts” of the report.
UPDATE: Sprint has confirmed in a statement that it is in talks with SoftBank about a substantial investment that could yield control to the Japanese carrier: “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.” (Original stories continues below)
Japanese newspaper Nikkei said that SoftBank is looking to spend more than 1.5 trillion yen ($19.2 billion) to gain two-thirds of Sprint’s stock. Another report in the Wall Street Journal, quoting a source close to the situation, said that SoftBank was willing to spend more than 1 trillion yen ($12.8 billion) to buy Sprint. Japanese broadcaster NHK also said that SoftBank was looking to buy two-thirds of Sprint at a price that could exceed 1 trillion yen. Reuters also has a similar story based on a source with “direct knowledge,” of the situation.
It’s unclear if all of these stories are being leaked by one person. The deal, if confirmed, would be another shakeup for the US cellular market after T-Mobile and MetroPCS announced their intention to merge. Sprint was seen as a potential loser in that deal. But if SoftBank buys it, it could have a better chance of competing in the US.
Softbank has been growing fast and recently purchased a smaller Japanese carrier called eAccess for $1.8 billion. It took over Vodafone’s Japan business in 2006. It is reportedly looking to use economies of scale to pay less for devices and networking equipment.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Susan Law Cain