Thu, Dec 26, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Japan’s SoftBank set to buy T-Mobile US: report

AFP, TOKYO

Japan’s SoftBank plans to acquire T-Mobile US through its subsidiary Sprint in a move that would create the world’s second-largest mobile carrier by revenue after China Mobile (中國移動), a report said yesterday.

SoftBank intends to buy a majority stake in fourth-ranked US wireless carrier T-Mobile early next year in a transaction with an estimated price tag of more than ¥2 trillion (US$19 billion), the Nikkei business daily said.

It is in the final stages of talks with T-Mobile’s parent, Deutsche Telekom of Germany, the economic daily quoted anonymous sources close to the matter as saying.

SoftBank declined to comment on the report. SoftBank shares fell 0.45 percent to close at ¥8,770 yesterday.

The purchase would boost SoftBank group’s annual revenue from mobile operations to US$69.4 billion, making it the world’s No. 2 carrier behind China Mobile with US$90.4 billion, the Nikkei said citing industry figures.

SoftBank had initially envisioned a stock swap, but it is believed to have added a tender offer and other transactions to the list of options since Deutsche Telekom prefers a cash deal, it said.

The Japanese group has begun talks with US financial institutions for loans to finance the deal, it said.

SoftBank aims to compete better with the two US giants — Verizon and AT&T — by integrating T-Mobile with Sprint to create a stronger No. 3 player with about 100 million subscribers, it said.

The deal needs approval by the US Federal Communications Commission and the US Department of Justice.

No. 3 US mobile carrier Sprint in July closed a deal that allowed SoftBank to take a controlling stake for US$21.6 billion, the largest overseas acquisition ever by a Japanese firm.

The SoftBank deal received clearance from US national security officials on condition of appointing an independent member to the Sprint board of directors to serve as security director.

AT&T sought to buy T-Mobile for US$39 billion in 2011, but backed down amid opposition from US regulators.

As competition intensifies in the mobile industry, Apple and China Mobile on Sunday unveiled an agreement to bring the iPhone to customers on a network with an estimated 760 million subscribers.

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