Mergers & acquisitions

Report: SoftBank Preps $19B Bid for T-Mobile

Japanese giant SoftBank could be ready to put in a $19 billion bid for T-Mobile US by spring, according to reports out of Asia.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports that sources say that SoftBank Mobile Corp. is in the "final stages" of talks about a deal to buy a majority stake in T-Mobile US Inc. from German owner Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT). The deal would see SoftBank assemble $19 billion from US and other financial institutions so that its Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) subsidiary could bid for T-Mobile.

If such a bid succeeds SoftBank would end up as majority shareholder in a combined Sprint-T-Mobile operation with around 100 million US subscribers. The logic is that this would put the company on a sounder footing to compete with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless , which are both approaching 110 million subscribers. The US wireless market is heavily saturated with 95% of the population -- around 290 million Americans -- using a cellular service.

Any hang-up in the reported SoftBank plans would likely come at the hands of US regulators. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice eventually put the brakes on AT&T's attempt to buy T-Mobile in 2011. (See T-Mobile Gets Spectrum in AT&T Breakup.)

Sprint executives have never ruled out the possibility of a T-Mobile merger. In fact, rumors of a merger have floated around for years.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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