“SoftBank Corp. (9984), the Japanese mobile carrier controlled by Masayoshi Son, raised its offer for Sprint Nextel Corp (S). by 7.5 percent to $21.6 billion to counter a bid from billionaireCharlie Ergen’s Dish Network Corp (DISH).
SoftBank will pay $16.6 billion to Sprint shareholders and inject $5 billion of new capital into the target for a 78 percent stake, the Tokyo-based carrier said in a statement today. Dish has until June 18 to make its “best and final” offer as its current $25.5 billion proposal isn’t “actionable,” Sprint said separately.
Billionaire Son, who has the backing of Sprint’s board and second-largest investor Paulson & Co., raised the stakes to fulfill his ambition of expanding into North America with the third-largest U.S. carrier. Success for the Japanese company would thwart Ergen’s plan to break into wireless and offer a bundle of satellite TV, mobile and Internet services.
“If SoftBank can’t buy Sprint, it will mess up Son’s strategy for growth, so this is very positive,” said Masamitsu Ohki, a fund manager at Stats Investment Management Co., a Tokyo based hedge fund. “This would be the first step for his global strategy since he can’t expect growth from the Japanese domestic market.”
Shares (9984) of SoftBank fell 0.4 percent to 5,500 yen at the close of trade in Tokyo, trimming this year’s gain to 75 percent.Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1.5 percent today. Sprint shares fell 0.8 percent to $7.18 yesterday in New York.