Yahoo Japan is buying its way into the country's communications services market with the planned 324 billion yen (US$3.17 billion) acquisition of fixed and mobile service provider eAccess from SoftBank. (See Yahoo Japan to Buy eAccess.)
That looks like an audacious move, but the deal is complex and is more about SoftBank Corp. -- which has shot to global prominence with the acquisition of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and a planned bid for T-Mobile US -- shuffling its assets than anything else, as it has a controlling stake in both eAccess and Yahoo Japan. (See SoftBank's Son Keeps Sprint on Short Leash and Report: SoftBank Preps $19B Bid for T-Mobile.)
Here's a quick take on what's going down…
eAccess Ltd. is in the process of merging with another SoftBank subsidiary, mobile service provider Willcom. The two companies are set to complete their merger on June 1 to create a service provider with about 10 million mobile customers and fewer than 1 million DSL broadband users.
If that merger completes successfully on June 1, then Yahoo Japan will acquire the resulting combined company on June 2, with a view to expanding and improving its online services to smartphone and tablet users under the slogan "Smart Devices First."
At the end of the day, though, eAccess will still be a subsidiary (albeit an indirect one) of SoftBank, though there are plenty of other companies that also own a piece of the eAccess pie. (See Vendors Get a Piece of eAccess.)
For more background on the complexities, see this Bloomberg article.
What will be interesting to watch is whether Yahoo Japan can manage to capitalize on a more direct relationship with a mobile service provider and find a way to use its online expertise and back-office operations to develop unique services for Japanese consumers.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading