updated 10:13 am EDT, Thu October 11, 2012
Deal could be worth over $19 billion
Major Japanese carrier Softbank is in negotiations to buy Sprint Nextel, Bloomberg reports. The publication cites two sources said to be familiar with the talks. According to Japan's Nikkei newspaper, Softbank may be prepared to spend over 1.5 trillion yen -- more than $19 billion US -- on the deal, though where the paper's information comes from isn't mentioned.
For Softbank the acquisition would be a way of entering the US market through a compatible carrier, since both Sprint and Softbank use equipment made by Ericsson AB, Nikkei notes. Sprint also offers the advantage of having national coverage, but is saddled with an expensive deal for the iPhone which will reportedly cost it almost $20 billion over a four-year period. That duration began last year, when Sprint offered its first iPhone in the form of the iPhone 4S. Softbank started carrying the iPhone in Japan several years earlier.
A Sprint buyout wouldn't mark the first instance of foreign control of a US carrier. Verizon Wireless is mostly self-operated, but a 45 percent stake belongs to UK-based international carrier Vodafone. T-Mobile USA belongs to Deutsche Telekom; AT&T attempted to buy out the former last year, but an antitrust lawsuit from the US Department of Justice led it to back down.