AllThingsD has just reported that Sprint – the third largest carrier in the U.S. and Apple’s iPhone carrier partner has confirmed it is in talks with Japanese carrier Softbank about a possible deal.
Sprint has issued the following statement to AllThingsD:
Although there can be no assurances that these discussions will result in any transaction or on what terms any transaction may occur, such a transaction could involve a change of control of Sprint. Sprint does not intend to comment further unless and until an agreement is reached.
Earlier in the day, Wall Street Journal had reported that the two companies were in talks. Softbank is the third largest carrier in Japan.
According to WSJ, Softbank is in advanced talks with Sprint to buy the U.S. carrier for approximately $13 billion, though it wasn’t clear if it was to buy all of Sprint or a two-thirds stake.
It is being seen as a gamble by the Japanese company to expand its business abroad. WSJ reports that Softbank had held talks with a variety of industry players over the summer and had indicated “it hoped to consolidate the U.S. wireless industry through an investment in Sprint.”
It is being speculated that the deal would give Sprint the financial muscle to buy other carriers or even bid to break up T-Mobile USA’s merger with MetroPCS or could even buy the combined entity.
Softbank was Apple’s exclusive iPhone carrier partner in Japan until last year, whereas Sprint started offering Apple’s iPhone only from last year.
Sprint has been lagging behind Verizon and AT&T with regards to 4G LTE coverage, so the multibillion-dollar cash injection should also help the company to roll out its 4G LTE network a lot faster than it had planned.