Japanese wireless provider SoftBank in talks to acquire Sprint Nextel

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Japanese telecommunications and Internet corporation SoftBank is reportedly in advanced talks to purchase Sprint Nextel. The deal, said to be valued at nearly $13 billion, could be just what the struggling wireless provider needs to help finance what the NY Times calls a turnaround effort.

SoftBank is the second largest mobile phone provider in Japan. The firm has over 34 million subscribers following a recent acquisition of rival eAccess. That buyout took place on October 1 as part of a $2.3 billion stock-swap deal.

An acquisition of Sprint would allow the Japanese company to enter the US market in a serious way and would be one of the largest transactions in SoftBank history.

If the two companies decide to do business, it would be the second high-profile wireless deal in the US this month. Deutsche Telekom agreed to buy regional carrier MetroPCS with plans to merge it with T-Mobile. For their efforts, MetroPCS is to receive $1.5 billion in cash and a 26 percent stake in the combined company.

Sprint is the third largest wireless provider in the US with 56 million subscribers. Even after the MetroPCS acquisition, T-Mobile will still be ranked fourth at just 42.5 million customers.

A person briefed on the matter told the paper that a transaction could be announced soon. As of writing, SoftBank is downplaying the report. A statement issued earlier today says the story is based on speculation and they have not announced anything. Sprint is also declining to comment at this hour.

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