TOKYO — In the priciest-ever overseas acquisition for a Japanese company, Softbank Corp. on Monday announced that it would buy about 70 percent of Sprint Nextel Corp., giving the U.S. carrier a much-needed cash infusion and boosting its chances to challenge giants Verizon and AT&T.
The $20.1 billion deal links a struggling U.S. mobile company, still trying to build up its high-speed next-generation network, with a Japanese wireless carrier noted for its history of risky — though so far fruitful — acquisitions.
In a joint press conference Monday with Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, Softbank’s billionaire founder Masayoshi Son said it was imperative to push overseas at a time when Japan’s own market, with its population declining and its economy stagnant, leaves little chance for growth. Softbank has a net debt of about $10 billion and it needed several major loans to finance the deal, but the strong yen gives the company greater purchasing power. The corporation’s stock plummeted in recent days after rumors of the deal leaked.