Japan's Softbank moves to acquire Sprint, MetroPCS
10/11/2012 7:45 PM EDT
TOKYO--Japanese wireless service provider Softbank Corp. is in negotiations to acquire more than two-thirds of Sprint Nextel Corp. and plans to also purchase MetroPCS Communications Inc., according to Nikkei, Japan’s economic journal.
The attempt is the boldest move ever made by the Japanese wireless operator, illustrating Softbank’s ambitious global expansion strategy.
If Softbank succeeds in the purchases of both Sprint and MetroPCS, the Japanese company will become the world’s third largest wireless operator in revenue, after China Mobile and the U.S. firm Verizon Wireless, according to Nikkei.
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MetroPCS has been reportedly in integration talks with T-Mobile USA Inc., a subsidiary of European telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom. But a more favorable offer from Softbank could tilt the negotiation. Softbank's plan is a two-step transaction to acquire Sprint first, then buy MetroPCS through Sprint, according to Nikkei. The potential cost of acquiring the two companies could be more than 2 trillion yen ($25.55 billion), according to Nikkei.
If successful, the two-step deal would be the largest-ever acquisition by a Japanese firm.
Softbank has already begun its shopping spree, announcing last month plans to take full control of Japan's fourth-largest carrier, eAccess, by February 2013. Nikkei estimates that Softbank Mobile Corp., eAccess, Sprint and MetroPCS have a total of about 100 million subscribers--close to the number served by AT&T., which boasts the most subscribers in the U.S.
Softbank isn’t a total stranger to overseas Internet services, either. The Japanese company invested in U.S. video site operator Ustream Inc. in early 2010.