Sprint, T-Mobile gain as SoftBank asset sale raises M&A hopes


SoftBank's (SFTBF) $3.17B sale of Japanese mobile ISP eAccess to Yahoo Japan is fueling speculation the Sprint (S +3.6%) parent is raising funds for a T-Mobile USA (TMUS +1.4%) bid.

In spite of regulatory pushback, SoftBank's Masayoshi Son continues to press his case for a deal. "A duopoly is taking over our country," he declared today at an industry trade show. "if you look at [the past] five years … it is a fact that those two big companies increased [their market share] from 56% to 73%. What happens in the next five years?"

T-Mobile's recent share gains (following years of losses) might have regulators thinking the next five years could go differently than the last five. The ripple effects of the #4 carrier's aggressive pricing might also influence their thinking.

Son has promised he'd launch a "price war" if a Sprint/T-Mobile deal was approved, and that the merged carrier would act as a last-mile broadband rival to cable/phone duopolies - that could be easier said than done in densely-populated urban areas.

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