Softbank has officially completed a $21.6 billion deal to take control of Sprint, putting an end to the long-running saga that started late last year when the Japanese carrier was reported to have been in talks to purchase two-thirds of Sprint.
The completed deal gives Softbank about 78 percent ownership of the new Sprint — which becomes a subsidiary of the third-largest Japanese carrier. Softbank said in a statement that it has purchased approximately 72 percent of Sprint shares for $7.65 per share in cash, while the remaining shares have been converted into a new publicly-traded entity named Sprint Corporation (dropping the Nextel from its name). Investors will still see the same ticker symbol “S” used by Sprint on the New York Stock Exchange.
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With Sprint also completing an acquisition of wireless high-speed Internet service provider Clearwire, Softbank now effectively has control of both companies. The completed deals will help the new Sprint compete better with leading rival wireless providers AT&T
and Verizon Communications. In light of this, Softbank had also offered an additional $5 billion to invest in the telecommunication company’s network and provide wireless broadband service.
The finalization of the deal comes after the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave its blessing to both Softbank and Sprint on their mergers earlier this month. The FCC called the decision a “good day for all Americans who use mobile broadband services,” while FCC’s acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn had also hailed the deal, saying it would help grow the deployment of mobile broadband services while enhancing competition in the mobile marketplace.
Other than crossing the FCC hurdle, Softbank’s quest to take control of Sprint had been thwarted by Dish Networks, which entered the fray and offered a competing offer, setting off a bit of a tiff between Dish and SoftBank — the former saying that national security would be at risk if Sprint was owned by a foreign company.
In a bid to assure the US Congress that Dish’s claims were invalid, Softbank conceded to create a national security committee, where each member would be approved by the US government. One of those individuals would be a security director and sit on the new Sprint board — we now know that to be retired Admiral Mike Mullen.
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