The Straits Times
Published on Oct 11, 2012

Japan's Softbank seeks majority Sprint stake


TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese mobile carrier Softbank is in talks to buy a majority stake in US operator Sprint Nextel for more than 1 trillion yen (S$15.9 billion), according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter, adding yet another potential shake-up to the fast-changing US wireless market.

Softbank, Japan's No. 3 carrier, said reports about the talks were "based on speculation" and it had no comment. Sprint declined to comment.

Sprint Nextel, whose market capitalisation was US$15.12 billion at Wednesday's market close, is the third-largest US carrier, with more than 56 million users at the end of June. It has often been rumoured as both a buyer and a seller in the last couple of years, as peers seek ways to consolidate and wring fresh profit out of the maturing market.

Mr Kevin Roe at Roe Equity Research estimated that Softbank could be offering about US$6.40 per Sprint Nextel share, a 27 per cent premium to Wednesday's close.