Softbank was the first carrier in Japan to offer Apple Inc.’s iPhone, which helped it boost earnings by more than sevenfold over the past four years. The Tokyo-based company, the fastest-growing Japanese mobile-phone provider, this month agreed to pay 180 billion yen for smaller local rival, eAccess Ltd.
“It’s surprising that the company is considering M&A in the North American market,” said Shinji Moriyuki, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo. “If Softbank can use its marketing knowhow and data communications, with which the company has been successful in Japan, there will probably be synergies in North America.”
Sprint and Clearwire have struggled to catch up with the larger wireless peers in the construction of faster LTE networks. Both companies have been dependent on financing to keep up with costs. Sprint has $21 billion in outstanding long- term debt and Clearwire has $4.2 billion in total long-term borrowings.
Founded by billionaire Masayoshi Son, Softbank entered the mobile-phone business in 2006 by paying 2 trillion yen for Vodafone Group Plc’s Japanese unit.