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Softbank's acquisition of Sprint a done deal

Thu, 07/11/2013 - 1:13pm
Ben Munson, Wireless Week

Following nine long months of bids, revised bids, public beefs and lawsuits, Sprint late yesterday announced the completion of its merger with Japanese carrier SoftBank. With Sprint absorbing Internet wholesaler Clearwire in a deal finalized Monday, both Sprint and Clearwire are now effectively under the control of SoftBank.

The final transaction resulted in 22-percent ownership for current Sprint equity holders, with the other 78 percent being left for SoftBank. The final bill came to $21.6 billion for SoftBank: $16.6 billion to be distributed among Sprint shareholders and the remaining $5 billion being used as capital for New Sprint.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse will remain in his current role and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son will serve as chairman of New Sprint’s board, with Ronald Fisher, director of SoftBank and president of SoftBank Holdings Inc., stepping in as vice chairman.

The finalized deal caps off a tumultuous period for all parties involved in the transaction as well as Dish Network. Dish entered into separate bidding battles with Sprint and SoftBank. Although Dish’s $25.5 billion merger bid for Sprint never quite got off the ground despite Sprint allowing Dish access to its book per due diligence, Dish as early as May looked primed to snatch up Clearwire. Dish’s $4.40 per share bid for Clearwire represented a large premium over Sprint’s $3.40 bid and lead Sprint to file a lawsuit against Dish and Clearwire. But in the end, Sprint submitted a revised $5 per share bid and won out, with Dish formally bowing out in late June.

With the SoftBank merger in the can, Sprint now becomes the third major U.S. wireless provider partially owned by a foreign company. Deutsche Telekom owns T-Mobile USA and Vodafone owns a partial stake in Verizon.

Sprint’s merger with SoftBank comes shortly after T-Mobile completed its own merger with MetroPCS. Both efforts could prove vital in Sprint and T-Mobile closing the competitive gap on AT&T and Verizon.

In its own statement confirming the completion of the merger, SoftBank announced that Sprint’s business performance will be consolidated with SoftBank's consolidated financial statements starting today.

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