Sprint Nextel is no more. Japan's SoftBank completed its protracted takeover of the US's third largest mobile carrier today, giving it a controlling stake in what is now Sprint Corporation. The deal is worth $21.6 billion, including $5 billion in cash to boost the company's balance sheet and $16.6 billion to be distributed to Sprint shareholders.
The name change removes an albatross that had long hung around Sprint's neck following its $36 billion acquisition of Nextel in 2005. After failing to successfully integrate the two networks, Sprint wrote off $29.7 billion on the purchase in 2008, wiping out over 80 percent of Nextel's value. Nextel's iDEN push-to-talk network was shut down at the end of last month.
"The network is a core focus."
SoftBank's first priority is expanding Sprint's wireless capacity with spectrum gained from the Clearwire buyout that was finalized yesterday, according to an executive that spoke to Reuters. "The network is a core focus," said SoftBank's Ron Fisher, who will join Sprint's board as vice chairman. "Until one has a network that really provides the kind of service we all look for, that's the most critical thing." SoftBank is not planning any major layoffs or management shakeups as it takes control; CEO Masayoshi Son will become chairman of the new Sprint, and Dan Hesse will remain Sprint CEO.