Japan's Second Largest Carrier, Softbank, Nears $12B USD Deal to Acquire Sprint
October 11, 2012 1:50 PM
1 trillion yen could earn Japan's fastest rising star ownership of a sinking U.S. firm
The shakeups in the U.S. mobile industry look to continue, with surprising news from Sprint Nextel Corp. (
). Sprint had been repeatedly mulling an acquisition of MetroPCS Communications Inc. (
) before Deutsche Telekom AG (
a deal to partially acquire MetroPCS
and merge it with its struggling subunit T-Mobile USA.
Following the collapse of its potential MetroPCS pickup, Sprint has announced that it itself is actually on the verge of being partially or fully acquired by a top Japanese carrier. Sprint writes, "Sprint today confirmed that it is currently engaged in discussions with Softbank regarding a potential substantial investment by Softbank in Sprint."
Softbank Corp. (
) has been on a steady rise in its home nation over the last half decade, starting with a leveraged buyout of Vodafone Group Plc.’s (
) Japanese arm (Vodafone co-owns Verizon Wireless in the U.S.). That moved propelled it into third place.
In some ways Softbank resembles a Japanese version of AT&T, Inc. (
) with its
aggressive acquisition strategy
. Like AT&T, it also was boosted in the years since 2007 by an exclusivity arrangement on Apple, Inc.'s (
) iPhone, with both companies
losing exclusivity in 2011
"Unlimited" service vendor Sprint could have a new owner. [Image Source: Sprint]
Just last week Softbank announced a major acquisition of rival eAccess, a move which would make it Japan's second largest carrier and boost its number of LTE base stations by 50 percent. The purchase -- which is paid for in stock -- is worth $1.84B USD,
, or $2.3B USD,
The New York Times
Reportedly its purchase of Sprint shares could run higher -- much higher.
The Wall Street Journal
report that Softbank is targeted a full acquisition priced at approximately 1T ¥ (~$12B USD). The Sprint release does not mention the extent of the acquisition or the in-progress price.
It's unclear what kind of real synergy could be realized by the tie-up with the Japanese carrier, but at the very least Softbank could bring a culture of success to Sprint.
"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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