Japanese operator SoftBank said to be in talks to acquire Sprint [UPDATED]Alex Wagner - Deputy Managing Editor, News Desk
It looks like October could be the month of big carrier deals. A little over a week after T-Mobile and MetroPCS agreed to a deal that'll see the two operators merge, new reports are claiming this morning that Japanese carrier SoftBank is in "advanced talks" to acquire Sprint. Details of the negotiations are still rather light, but SoftBank is said to be interested in purchasing more than two-thirds of Sprint's shares in a deal that Reuters and the Wall Street Journal say could exceed 1 trillion yen ($12.8 billion), while Nikkei claims that total could even surpass 1.5 trillion yen ($19.1 billion).
Sprint was rumored to be involved in acquisition talks earlier this year, but in those reports it was the one doing the acquiring, almost snapping up MetroPCS for $8 billion. More recently, it's been said that Sprint is considering a bid for MetroPCS to counter the offer of T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom, though it's now said that Sprint is holding off on that bid for the being. While it's not yet clear exactly why the Now Network is an acquisition target for SoftBank, it'd certainly be interesting to see what the Japanese carrier would do with Sprint if an agreement were reached. We'll be keeping a close eye on this one, so stay tuned for more.
UPDATE: Sprint has issued an official statement on this matter, confirming that it is indeed in talks with SoftBank about a "potential substantial investment." The carrier says that the deal "could involve a change of control of Sprint," but it adds that there's no guarantee that such a deal will actually be completed. Sprint's full statement is as follows:
Sprint Confirms Discussions with Softbank on a Possible Transaction
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), October 11, 2012 - Sprint (NYSE: S) today confirmed that it is currently engaged in discussions with Softbank regarding a potential substantial investment by Softbank in Sprint. Although there can be no assurances that these discussions will result in any transaction or on what terms any transaction may occur, such a transaction could involve a change of control of Sprint. Sprint does not intend to comment further unless and until an agreement is reached.