Sun, Jul 16, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Sprint head asks Buffett, Malone to invest: source


Sprint Corp chairman Masayoshi Son held talks with billionaires Warren Buffett and John Malone about investing in the wireless company, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Buffett is considering an infusion of US$10 billion to US$20 billion, while Malone would put in additional funding, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

Part of the funding would dilute Softbank Group Corp’s 83 percent stake, while the rest would put cash into the company to strengthen it, the person said.

Son, the Japanese billionaire who controls Softbank, held separate talks with the two men at the annual Allen & Co gathering in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Sprint shares rose as much as 5.1 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported he was in talks with Buffett and Malone.

Sprint rose as high as US$8.64 in New York. T-Mobile US Inc, often mentioned as a merger partner, was up as much as 1.3 percent.

Son has been exploring a merger or other deal for the company, which has been losing money and has fallen to fourth place in the US wireless market.

Sprint has been in talks with Charter Communications Inc, which counts Malone as its top investor, and Comcast Corp on a potential deal to let the cable companies resell wireless services, people familiar with the matter said last month.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc has added to bets in telecommunications after he brought on deputies Todd Combs and Ted Weschler to help pick stocks. The company’s holdings include investments in Malone ventures such as Sirius XM Holdings Inc and Liberty Global PLC.

Buffett has long been willing to put billions of dollars behind the bets of investors he trusts.

He helped 3G Capital take over ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co and then merge it with Kraft Foods Group Inc, winning preferred terms for Berkshire.

He also backed a group that bid for Yahoo Inc’s core assets, sources said last year.

The consortium, which included Quicken Loans Inc founder Dan Gilbert, was eventually outbid by Verizon.

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