According to information released this morning, Softbank, Japan's third-largest mobile operator, has begun negotiations to buy shares in US mobile operator Sprint. The deal is worth about $ 1.5 trillion. yen, or $ 19 billion. This will be the largest purchase of a foreign company by a Japanese firm.
SoftBank was the only iPhone official in Japan until the iPhone 4S was released last November. According to people familiar with the situation, Softbank intends to buy shares in Sprint, which had over 56 million active subscribers at the end of June 2012.
According to Bloomberg, Softbank is going to buy out two-thirds of Sprint:
Softbank and Clearwire use the same LTE frequencies. News agency CNBC reports that Softbank is expected to buy Sprint's subsidiary Clearwire as well. However, analysts are unsure of the positive outcome of this interaction.
If the parties agree, then AT&T will remain the only major operator in the United States not owned by a foreign corporation. T-Mobile, the country's fourth-largest operator, is a subsidiary of German operator Deutsche Telekom. Verizon, the largest telecommunications provider in the United States, is a joint venture between US Verizon Communications and UK multinational mobile cellular operator Vodafone, which owns 45% of the joint venture.
Softbank issued a statement following rumors regarding the deal:
Sprint confirmed preparations for the deal, mentioning "a significant investment by SoftBank," but declined to provide details.