SoftBank linked to Charter talks as doubts cast on Sprint/T-Mobile tie-up

SoftBank has reportedly opened talks with Charter Communications about a potential merger as discussions with Deutsche Telekom about a potential tie-up between Sprint and T-Mobile appear to be on the verge of collapse.

Reports from Japan earlier in the week claimed SoftBank, which owns Sprint, is set to pull the plug on a rumoured merger with Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile over a dispute about who would control the combined company.

Bloomberg has reported that SoftBank CEO and Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son is still waiting on further talks with Deutsche Telekom to try and salvage the deal, but a New York Post story claims he is also holding high level talks with executives at Charter.

The Post cites an unnamed source who claimed Son initiated talks, although it is unclear at what stage talks between Son and the cable company are currently at.

Charter’s biggest shareholder is Liberty Global supremo John Malone, who has previously been linked with a potential bid for T-Mobile.

This isn’t the first time SoftBank has looked at Charter as a potential target. According to Bloomberg reports, SoftBank made an offer to buy Charter in July, but this was rejected, with Charter set to launch its own mobile services next year running on Verizon’s network.

It comes as Sprint has somewhat struggled in an increasingly competitive US mobile market. It slipped behind T-Mobile to become the country’s fourth biggest mobile provider, and has a significant amount of debt. However, it does also have a strong spectrum portfolio, making it an attractive merger partner.

It comes as SoftBank said on Thursday it has secured a 2.65 trillion yen ($23.3 billion) senior loan agreement to refinance acquisition loans for Sprint Corp and British chip designer ARM.

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