Japanese mobile provider Softbank is to buy up to 70% of beleaguered U.S. cellphone network Sprint. The deal, announced earlier this morning in Tokyo, is worth $20.1 billion, and is the biggest overseas acquisition ever made by a Japanese firm. The deal could well mean that Sprint, er, sprints to the front of the queue on technology such as NFC ticketing and mobile payments, both of which Softbank are strong on.
The deal will give Sprint, the third largest network behind AT&T and Verizon, some much needed firepower in the 4G arena and is, said the U.S. firm’s CEO, Dan Hesse, “pro-competitive and pro-consumer.” Masayoshi Son, Softbank’s head honcho, meanwhile, who is seen as a risk-taker, is hoping that the firm’s foray into the U.S. market, which is still growing, will help the Japanese firm, whose home market is stagnant.
“It could be safe if you do nothing and our challenge in the U.S. is not going to be easy at all,” he told the press conference. “We must enter a new market… and we must start again from zero after all we have built. But not taking this challenge will be a bigger risk.”