Sprint: Yes, we're talking to Softbank about 'substantial investment'

Summary:The wireless carrier game is increasingly going global as Softbank eyes a stake as high as 70 percent in No. 3 U.S. provider Sprint.

Sprint on Thursday confirmed that it was talking to Softbank about a "potential substantial investment" in the wireless provider.

In a statement, Sprint added that there are no assurances that the talks will result in a deal. Softbank said earlier that it didn't comment on rumors and speculation. Update: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that "substantial" could equate to a 70 percent stake in Sprint. Softbank also wants control of Clearwire, which is Sprint's technology partner. 

The speculation is that Softbank is pondering a $12.5 billion investment in Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. carrier. Sprint needs to bolster its balance sheet as it takes on a LTE network upgrade. Meanwhile, T-Mobile plans to acquire MetroPCS to beef up its U.S. presence. Verizon and AT&T remain the big dogs in the U.S. market.

Should the Softbank-Sprint transaction occur it's clear that wireless providers are increasingly thinking global. Softbank is a key wireless player in Japan and Sprint would give it access to a U.S. market that isn't aging as rapidly as its home turf.


In addition, Verizon Wireless is already a joint venture between Verizon and Vodafone. Toss in T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom in Germany, and MetroPCS and it's clear that this wireless game is going global in a hurry.

Bottom line: The U.S. is an attractive market for international carriers, who may reside in either economically or demographically challenged markets.


Topics: Mobility, Networking, Tech Industry, Telcos


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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