Softbank May Take Control Of Sprint
October 11, 2012

Japanese Wireless Company Softbank Looking To Control 75 Percent Of Sprint

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Sprint is talking with one of Japan's largest mobile-phone companies for a possible "substantial" investment, according to a report by Japan´s Nikkei newspaper.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said that the deal could involve Softbank to take as much as 75 percent of Sprint, giving the third-largest Japanese carrier control over the U.S. company.

Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities LLC, wrote in a report that Sprint offers a way for the Japanese company to break into the U.S. market.

Nikkei said Softbank is considering an investment that could total as much as $19 billion.

The report said Softbank may also help Sprint to buy full control of Clearwire, though no decision on that step has been made yet.

Sprint said in a statement that it couldn't ensure a transaction would occur between the two companies, adding no additional details.

Softbank was the first carrier in Japan to offer Apple's iPhone, which helped it boost earnings by more than sevenfold over the past four years.

"The story about SoftBank and Sprint Nextel Corporation being reported is based on speculation. We have not announced anything. We do not comment on speculation," the Japanese company wrote in a statement.

Sprint has fought to try and catch up to bigger companies like Verizon and AT&T, and a deal between T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS could create even tougher competition.

Sprint tried purchasing MetroPCS earlier this year, but its board vetoed the deal because it saw the acquisition as too expensive.

Softbank has nearly 30.5 million subscribers across Japan, according to the company's website. It also has over $2.3 billion in capital.

The company acquired its Japanese mobile infrastructure and services rival, eAccess, in a deal valued at $2.3 billion at the beginning of October. The combinations of the firms will make Softbank the number two mobile phone provider in Japan, with more than 34 million subscribers.