Japanese Cell Provider Softbank Buying Sprint

Softbank is a juggernaut in Japanese telecommunications, but has pretty much zero presence in America. Basically you’ve only heard of them if you’re a gadget nerd (guilty) or related to somebody who lives in Japan. As you may have guessed, that’s about to change. Drastically.

Softbank is buying Sprint in a bid reminiscent less of modern mergers and more like the 1980s:

The transaction calls for Softbank to buy $8 billion worth of shares directly from Sprint at a price of $5.25 each and tender for another $12 billion worth of the shares from existing holders at a price of $7.30 a share, a large premium to Sprint’s current price. Given the deal’s structure, it will not require a shareholder vote.

To say this came a bit out of left field is an understatement. In general, Japanese mobile companies don’t really have much of an interest in the West, largely due to the fact that Japanese mobile phones and software were, until very recently, much different and not easily transferable.

That’s been changing, as the iPhone and Android handsets streamline the cellular business by brute force. But it’s still a bold move that essentially makes Softbank the third biggest cellular provider in the US and one of the larger ones in the world by default.

Personally, I just hope this means Otosan will start showing up in Sprint ads.