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SoftBank chairman 'feeling good' about ending Sprint-T Mobile US merger talks

SoftBank's Sprint and T-Mobile have called off merger talks

Sprint
Sprint's parent company SoftBank has not ruled out a future merger

SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son said he was “feeling good” about ending merger talks between the Japanese company’s US telecoms unit, Sprint Corp (NYSE:S), and T-Mobile US Inc (NYSE:PCS).

Sprint and T-Mobile US announced they had called off merger talks on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters after SoftBank posted its second quarter results, Son said: “The US is the biggest market in the world, and now that we have built a good base of our business in the US, we shouldn’t let it go.”

He added that the strength of Sprint’s wireless network presents an opportunity to build a role in the so-called internet of things, which will be driven by the US.

SoftBank plans to raise its stake in Sprint from the current 83.7% but below 85%, which would trigger a tender offer for the remaining shares.

“US telecoms is indispensable infrastructure and as an investing company SoftBank should have the ability to control such infrastructure,” Son said.

Future merger possible

However, Son did not rule out a future merger if its management rights are preserved.

Sprint, the fourth-largest US telecoms operator, has been weighed down with US$38bn in debt and is tackling fierce competition Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.

Under pressure to find another way to turnaround the company, Son said: “Even if it is tough for the next three or four years, on a five or ten year timescale scale it is a strategically indispensable company.”

Softbank's quarterly profits rise 

SoftBank reported a 21% increase in second quarter operating profit to 395.6bn yen, boosted by growth in the value of its technology investments. 

The profit included more than US$93bn raised for the Vision Fund, a private equity fund, with backers including Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Apple and Foxconn. Son intends to use the funds to invest in technology companies with a focus on artificial intelligence, interconnected devices and robotics.

Excluding profit from the Vision Fund, income fell 4%.

Son said the company is finalising conditions for investment in Uber Technologies Inc that must be met, including  pricing and negotiations with existing investors.

“I believe that Uber is a good company,” Son said, adding “whether we make an investment in Uber or not is not decided”.

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