Overland Park-based Sprint Nextel has confirmed that Softbank Corp., which owns a large mobile carrier in Japan, is in talks to purchase a commanding stake in Sprint.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
It wasn't immediately clear whether Softbank would buy all of Sprint, which has a market capitalization of $15 billion, or a two-thirds stake, the person said. There was also no assurance the talks would result in a deal. The offer was reported earlier by Japan's NHK broadcaster and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper.
Such a deal would be the second major acquisition for the U.S. telecommunications industry this month.
Softbank is Japan's third largest wireless carrier, according to a report in The Kansas City Star that stated "talks have been underway since summer" (this according to a report on CNBC this morning).
It (the CNBC report) further said the deal could include Clearwire Corp., the operator of the WiMax network that Sprint uses for some of its faster fourth-generation wireless service. Sprint owns a major stake in Clearwire.
Sprint has been under close watch for its own possible bid for smaller U.S. wireless carrier MetroPCS Communications Inc., which agreed last week to merge with T-Mobile USA.