SOFTBANK MAY TAR­GET CHAR­TER DI­RECTLY

No. 2 US ca­ble com­pany has spurned of­fer to merge with Sprint

New Straits Times - - Business / World -

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.

BLOOMBERG PIX

Masayoshi Son’s (inset) Softbank Group Corp, which owns Sprint, has a mar­ket value of about US$89 bil­lion.

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