SOFTBANK MAY TARGET CHARTER DIRECTLY
No. 2 US cable company has spurned offer to merge with Sprint
MASAYOSHI Son plans to use SoftBank Group Corp in a direct bid for Charter Communications Inc after an earlier merger proposal by its American wireless unit was rejected, says a source.
Charter spurned an offer to merge with Sprint Corp, which is controlled by SoftBank.
The plan by Son, SoftBank’s chairman, could reignite deal talks that had appeared to be dead on Sunday, when Charter said it was not interested in buying Sprint.
The billionaire had previously proposed a deal that would create a new public company to absorb Sprint and Charter and combine them, said people familiar with the matter.
Shares of SoftBank fell as much as 2.9 per cent in afternoon trade. The Tokyo-based company has a market value of about US$89 billion (RM380.9 billion) compared with US$101 billion for Charter.
United States cable and wire- less carriers have been circling each other as more consumers watch video and access the Internet on mobile devices. By combining, companies like Charter and Sprint could offer a full suite of telecommunications services to customers, from home broadband Internet to wireless plans, and compete with the packages sold by AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.
Charter and Comcast Corp had been in talks with Sprint over possible deals, including one that would allow cable companies to resell wireless services under their own brands.
A combination of Sprint and Charter would put together the fourth-largest US wireless carrier with the No. 2 US cable company.
Sprint has a market value of almost US$33 billion and even more in long-term debt — putting pressure on Son to make a deal as Sprint’s losses mount and bond maturities approach.
Masayoshi Son’s (inset) Softbank Group Corp, which owns Sprint, has a market value of about US$89 billion.