SoftBank eyeing Sprint, DISH merger?

A couple of months ago, Japanese media conglomerate SoftBank was attempting to engineer a merger between Intelsat and would-be satellite operator OneWeb. Intelsat’s debt-burden stymied that deal.

Now SoftBank is reported to be behind a merger between US cellular telco Sprint, and Charlie Ergen’s DTH operation DISH Network. Shares in Sprint jumped 10.3 per cent on August 1st, and DISH rose 2.3 per cent on the speculation.

SoftBank already owns 80 per cent of Sprint, so in that regard it would be pushing at an open door. It also owns the Virgin Mobile brand in the US, with about 6 million customers.

Charlie Ergen has long sought to build spectrum assets, and has had his eyes on Sprint. Ergen was reported to be holding some $35 billion-worth of national spectrum and a few years ago attempted a merger with Sprint. That $25 billion bid fizzled out in 2013 and led to SoiftBank’s acquisition of Sprint, but Wall Street has for some time been speculating on Ergen’s next move.

A merger could be timely for all concerned.

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