Japanese network operator SoftBank Corp. is believed to be in advanced talks to buy a majority stake in Sprint Nextel Corp. for US$12.8 billion, reports Bloomberg, citing the Nikkei newspaper.
SoftBank is reportedly discussing a deal that would see it take a 66 percent stake in Sprint, the third-largest mobile operator in the U.S. with more than 56 million customers.
Softbank issued a statement saying: "The story about SoftBank and Sprint Nextel Corporation being reported is based on speculation. We have not announced anything. We do not comment on speculation."
The rumor will add to the current uncertainty about the future of the U.S. mobile market, as Sprint had allegedly been looking at a bid for MetroPCS Inc., which is currently on course to merge with T-Mobile USA. (See Sprint Could Counter-Bid for MetroPCS and T-Mobile, MetroPCS to Merge.)
The latest speculation comes shortly after SoftBank announced its intention to acquire fellow Japanese service provider eAccess Ltd. in a deal valued at about $2.3 billion. That deal, if completed, will see eAccess, which has about 4.2 million customers, merge with SoftBank Mobile Corp., the third-largest mobile player in Japan with more than 30 million customers.
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â€” Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading