Japan’s third-largest carrier is reportedly in talks to buy control of Sprint, according to two people familiar with the matter. SoftBank wants to snap up two-thirds of the company with a stake worth “more than” 1.5 trillion yen ($19 billion), and it’s also eyeing Sprint’s partner, Clearwire, too.
Bloomberg notes that the deal could lead to a big shift to the balance of power in the United States telecommunications industry, providing Sprint with the much-needed financial support is requires to compete with bigger carriers like Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst with Wells Fargo Securities, notes the deal would also be a big boost for SoftBank by allowing it to enter the U.S. market with an immediate “national presence.”
What’s more, Sprint’s joint-venture with Clearwire means that there’s already a network compatible with Softbank’s TDD LTE frequency in place in the U.S.
SoftBank is also expected to buy Clearwire, according to CNBC.
All three companies have declined to comment on the rumor, while SoftBank insists it was not the source of the report, which was originally published in Japanese newspaper Nikkei. Despite this, shares in T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom climbed 1.2% within 15 minutes of the Nikkei report, suggesting investors may see the deal increasing the chances of the T-Mobile merger with MetroPCS.
SoftBank was the first carrier in Japan to offer Apple’s iPhone, which helped it boost earnings by more than sevenfold over the last four years..