Connect to share and comment

Investors give thumbs up to $21.6 bn Sprint takeover

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Investors in Tokyo on Wednesday welcomed news that shareholders in US mobile carrier Sprint had approved a $21.6 billion takeover by SoftBank, paving the way for the biggest-ever overseas buyout by a Japanese firm.

SoftBank, whose shares have almost doubled since deal was reported in October, jumped as much as 4.2 percent to 5,660 yen ($58) in opening Tokyo trade before settling back slightly to 5,540 yen, up 2.03 percent.

Sprint shares initially jumped 1.9 percent to $6.99 on the news before finishing 0.29 percent higher in New York.

The vote on Tuesday in the United States clears one of the last major hurdles following a hard-fought acquisition battle that saw the Japanese firm increase its initial $20 billion offer by $1.6 billion. The deal will see SoftBank take a 78 percent stake in Sprint.

It was approved with 80 percent of the US firm's outstanding voting shares, a statement said.

The merger's completion still requires approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) but Sprint said in a statement the two firms expect it to be consummated in early July, .

"We are grateful that many Sprint shareholders supported our plan," SoftBank said after the vote.

"From now on we plan to complete procedures of the deal swiftly on approval by the FCC."

Sprint chief executive Dan Hesse said that "today is an historic day for our company".

"The transaction with SoftBank should enhance Sprint's long-term value and competitive position by creating a company with greater financial flexibility," he added.

SoftBank had targeted Sprint, a distant third in US wireless services after AT&T and Verizon, as a way to gain entry into the lucrative US market. The fresh capital is expected to help Sprint compete against its larger rivals.

But the Japanese company's efforts ran into competition from Dish Network, which forced SoftBank to increase its offer. However, Dish last week abandoned its $25.5 billion bid.

The SoftBank deal won clearance from US national security officials in May under the condition of the appointment of an independent member to the Sprint board of directors to serve as security director.

The director, who must be approved by US authorities, would oversee national security matters and serve as a point of contact for US agencies.

bur-pb/dan

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130626/investors-give-thumbs-216-bn-sprint-takeover