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Is Trump’s SoftBank Deal Really About Sprint and T-Mobile?

Donald Trump announced SoftBank’s CEO will help create 50,000 U.S. jobs, but SoftBank – which owns more than 80 percent of Sprint – may want federal approval for a Sprint/T-Mobile merger.

Trump and the markets

President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son (of Japan) will “invest $50 billion in the U.S. toward businesses and 50,000 new jobs”:

But Son’s talks with Trump may be about more than just investing in U.S. jobs. From Bloomberg in August 2016:

SoftBank Group Corp.’s Masayoshi Son has a 300-year plan, so if combining Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. takes a few years longer than he hoped, that’s OK. Son, who became one of the world’s wealthiest men by turning Tokyo-based SoftBank into a telecommunications and technology powerhouse, still would like to merge the U.S. wireless providers, according to people familiar with his thinking. SoftBank owns more than 80 percent of Sprint after acquiring the majority stake in 2013, part of Son’s famed plan to build a business empire that can endure through the centuries.

Indeed, Bloomberg noted on Tuesday that shares of Sprint and T-Mobile both rose after Trump’s announcement.

The announcement came a day after at least one industry analyst put a curious price tag on a Sprint acquisition of T-Mobile: $50 billion.

Trump’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would have to approve any merger between the two mobile giants.