Softbank buys Sprint Nextel for $20 bln

Softbank buys Sprint Nextel for $20 bln

TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Japanese mobile carrier Softbank announced yesterday a monster deal to take control of US-based Sprint Nextel for about $20 billion, one of the biggest-ever overseas acquisitions by Japan Inc.

Softbank said the ambitious takeover would see it acquire 70 percent of Sprint Nextel, the third-biggest US mobile firm behind AT&T and Verizon Wireless, with the deal set for completion in the middle of next year.

The purchase “enables Softbank to establish an operating base as one of the largest mobile Internet companies in the world”, it said in a statement announcing the deal.

The corporate marriage, which will have about 90 million subscribers, would vault Softbank to third spot globally among mobile firms after China Mobile and Verizon, it said.

Softbank, Japan’s third-largest mobile operator, confirmed the deal would be financed with cash and loans from Japan’s major lenders and Deutsche Bank.

The agreement would provide heavily indebted Sprint with liquidity to remain competitive in a US field dominated by AT&T and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group.