Softbank’s Sprint Acquisition: Making Wireline and Dot-Com Sense of the Deal

Brian Washburn
Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Softbank is not just a telecom company; it is a major dot-com investor.  It may be able to use Sprint’s base as an audience to promote other holdings.
  • In-country holdings in Japan and the U.S. could attract new enterprise business.  However, the U.S. government may have wireline contract concerns over Sprint’s foreign ownership.

On October 15, 2012, Softbank announced its intent to acquire a majority stake in Sprint.  Softbank’s focus for the acquisition is of course mobility, just as Sprint itself has mobile at the forefront of its service portfolio.  Softbank operates both wireline and wireless networks in Japan, inherited through acquisitions of Japan Telecom, Vodafone, Willcom, and eAccess.  In the U.S., some people will better remember Softbank as a major investor in speculative Internet ventures, particularly cutting-edge digital properties that led the dot-com explosion of the late 1990s, and the following bust.  Today, Softbank remains a big speculative dot-com investor, and it has stakes in many dozens of companies.  Some names include Internet/TV company Boxee, social gaming developer Zynga, personalized gaming application GameGround, virtual desktop hosting company Desktone, and the AOL-acquired news site Huffington Post.  In its acquisition of Sprint, Softbank contributes a broad investment portfolio of dot-com properties that could use Sprint’s customer base as a target audience to promote its mobile games, apps, and content. Continue reading “Softbank’s Sprint Acquisition: Making Wireline and Dot-Com Sense of the Deal”