Sprint and SoftBank made some mobile waves last year when the two companies announced that they'd come to an agreement that'd see SoftBank purchase a 70 percent stake in Sprint for $20.1 billion. However, a new Sprint proxy filing dug up by Reuters has revealed that there are a handful of other firms that almost took SoftBank's place in the deal. The document says that Sprint talked with four other companies before reaching an agreement with SoftBank, and while the actual other parties aren't named, Sprint does reveal a few details about the potential deals.
- Company "W": Sprint says that it talked with company W between September 2011 and February 2012 about a possible merger. Reuters speculates that this is MetroPCS, which was nearly bought by Sprint for $8 billion before the Now Network's board of directors axed the deal.
- Company "X": These talks lasted from May through September 2011. In the deal that nearly happened between these two, Sprint would've gained spectrum and its shareholders would've gotten "substantial" equity in Sprint.
- Company "Y": Sprint held talks off an on with company Y from May through September 2012. The two companies nearly came to agreements on different combinations and joint ventures, but ultimately were never able to reach a deal. There were also talks between Sprint, SoftBank and company Y about a three-way deal at one point.
- Company "Z": Finally, Sprint spoke with company Z about some possible spectrum partnerships between May and September 2012. Company Z's CEO shot down the idea of a combination when it was brought up by a Sprint exec, saying that his firm was dealing with "certain regulatory issues" of its own and that at the time, he though that Sprint's market value was greater than what he though its fundamental value. It's possible that company Z is Dish Network, which spent much of 2012 waiting for the FCC to greenlight its plans for a wireless network. It's also been rumored that Sprint once suggested that it and Dish form a partnership.
It's pretty interesting to get some of the details of the talks that Sprint held with various companies before it finally reached an agreement with SoftBank. Sprint has obviously been keeping busy over the past year and a half or so trying make a deal with another firm happen, and as this proxy filing reveals, Hesse and Co. would just move on to another potential partner after talks fell through with the previous one. Ultimately it was Japanese carrier SoftBank that struck a deal with Sprint, and once it's complete, Sprint will find itself with some new capital and will be able to use SoftBank's LTE experience to aid in its own LTE rollout. Sprint's deal with SoftBank is currently undergoing the usual regulatory review process and is expected to close in mid-2013.