UPDATE: SoftBank reaches $20.1 billion deal to acquire 70% stake in Sprint
SoftBank has reached a deal to acquire a 70% stake in Sprint and will pay $20.1 billion.
The deal will create the world’s third largest mobile phone operator, and the situation has developed significantly since SoftBank first confirmed its interests in Sprint last week.
Softbank chief executive, Masayoshi Son, has a reputation for making high risk acquisitions, and the tie up will mean he has an important role in shaping the US wireless industry at a time when operators are fighting for spectrum to meet data demands.
The Japanese group said in a statement today that $12.1 billion will be paid out to Sprint shareholders and $8 billion will be retained to strengthen Sprint.
This is SoftBank’s first foray outside of its domestic market, and will be the largest acquisition of a US company by a Japanese buyer.
The wireless market in the US is being hotly contested, with MetroPCS, the country’s fourth largest player being subject to interest from both T-Mobile USA and Sprint.
The Financial Times reports other wireless operators, including Leap Wireless are said to be other takeover targets.
Rumours further persist that SoftBank is interested in increasing Sprint’s stake in Clearwire, of which it owns 50%. SoftBank, however, said it is only focussed on Sprint at the present time.