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Softbank CEO To Focus On Sprint Offer At Annual Meeting

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When Softbank Corp. (TYO:9984) (PINK:SFTBF) Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son addresses his company’s shareholders today, he will attempt to convince them that his bid for Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) is an important part of his plan. Softbank is currently the third largest mobile carrier in Japan, and Son has made it his ambition to transform the carrier into the world’s biggest, reports Bloomberg’s Naoko Fujimura.


Softbank’s Bid For Sprint

Softbank Corp. (TYO:9984) (PINK:SFTBF) bid $21.6 billion for Sprint Nextel. Earlier this week, DISH Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH) withdrew its competing bid for Sprint, seemingly clearing the way for Softbank to prevail. However, DISH is still attempting to acquire Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR), which may present a problem for Softbank, according to Fujimura. Sprint Nextel filed suit against DISH earlier this week in an attempt to keep it from acquiring Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR).

Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) made a bid for Clearwire late last year, and then DISH Network stepped in and made a competing, unsolicited bid for the mobile carrier. Both of them are seeking control of the company’s valuable wireless spectrum. Sprint is the majority owner of Clearwire, and Softbank needs Clearwire’s spectrum to support the fourth-generation network it wants to roll out in the U.S. The network would help bring Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) into a stronger position against competitors AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ), both of which already have upgraded networks.

Softbank’s Formula For Sprint Nextel

Softbank Corp. (TYO:9984) (PINK:SFTBF) has approximately 42 million subscribers in all, and it is Japan’s fastest growing mobile carrier. Son’s plan is to replicate his company’s success in Japan over in the U.S. through his company’s acquisition of Sprint. He intends to improve Sprint’s networks and services.

Bloomberg data indicates that Softbank has acquired almost 100 companies since 2000, so it’s clear that Son has been snapping up companies right and left. It also has major stakes in Yahoo Japan Corp. (TYO:4689), Ustream Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

At this point, Softbank’s bid for Sprint Nextel is being backed by Sprint’s board and also Paulson & Co., which is the company’s second largest shareholder. The shareholder advisory firm Egan-Jones also backs the bid. In addition, the two companies have already received national security clearance from the U.S. government, paving the way for the deal to happen.

Shareholders of Sprint will vote next week on the offer from Softbank. Sprint has been shedding subscribers rapidly, so shareholders may be motivated to make a deal in light of Son’s plans to improve the company’s network. Sprint has 55.2 million subscribers and lost about 560,000 subscribers during the first three months of the year.

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