The Overland Park, Kan.-based operator confirmed Thursday morning that it is "engaged in discussions with Softbank regarding a potential substantial investment by Softbank in Sprint." The CDMA provider isn't adding too many details about the talks but does say that "such a transaction could involve a change of control of Sprint."
The Japanese operator could reportedly buy Sprint for US$12.8 billion. The extra cash would give Sprint more money for its "Network Vision" 4G rollout, and the deal could create easier roaming for Softbank in the U.S.
This is not the first time that Sprint has been linked to a major Asian carrier as a possible suitor. In 2008 and 2011, rumors swirled that South Korean CDMA giant SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) would try to buy Sprint.
China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) also has ties to erstwhile Sprint 4G partner Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR). China Mobile has a Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD) device development and roaming deal with Clearwire. (See Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD).)
It is not clear if a Softbank-Sprint deal would involve Clearwire. Sprint is the largest single shareholder in Clearwire.
- Softbank Eyes Sprint Acquisition
- Clearwire's LTE TDD Buddy System
- China Mobile, Clearwire Team for TD-LTE Device Tests
- SK Telecom: No Plans to Buy Sprint
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile