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Softbank Will Acquire 70% of Sprint

Softbank Corp. (9984) agreed to pay $20.1 billion to acquire about a 70 percent stake in Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) as Japan’s third-biggest mobile-phone operator seeks growth overseas amid a declining local market.

Softbank will pay $12.1 billion to Sprint shareholders and the deal includes $8 billion of new capital, according to a statement today. The deal would be the biggest publicly announced outbound acquisition by a Japanese company since at least 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Entering the U.S. allows billionaire Masayoshi Son to participate in a market that’s still growing in contrast to Japan, where handset shipments tumbled 27 percent during the past five years. Sprint can fund a faster expansion of its 4G wireless network, pay down debt or make more acquisitions aimed at challenging bigger competitors Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (T)

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