SoftBank Moves Closer To 78 Percent Stake In Sprint

SoftBank's acquisition of a majority stake in Sprint Nextel appears to have cleared a final hurdle. The FCC reportedly approved the deal on Wednesday. Regulatory approval is the last step before the mega deal can be completed.

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And the Federal Communications Commission has apparently approved a deal giving the Japanese telecom giant SoftBank a controlling stake in SprintNextel, which is the third-largest wireless operator in the U.S. Experts say SoftBank's industry clout should help Sprint become a more robust competitor. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Regulatory approval is the last step before the mega deal can be completed. The $21.6 billion that Softbank will pay makes this the largest, ever, overseas acquisition by a Japanese company. In a related matter, the FCC reportedly approved Sprint's purchase of all the shares in wireless provider Clearwire that it doesn't already own. Clearwire has a large amount of wireless spectrum and that's valuable to Softbank for its U.S. expansion plans. Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Softbank, has made no secret of his global ambitions. The maverick billionaire hopes to turn his company into the world's largest mobile carrier. Right now, Sprint is a distant third in the U.S. wireless market. Verizon and AT&T are the dominant players. But analyst Charles Golvin of Forrester Research says the new Sprint will be a stronger competitor than it's been in the past.

CHARLES GOLVIN: They're going to have more money to spend on their network, more money to spend on marketing, and they're going to be able to improve their network to be on par or potentially superior to what AT&T and Verizon offer today.

KAUFMAN: Golvin believes having a strong number three in the market will mean more choices and better prices for consumers. Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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