/// With Sprint Deal Nearly Sealed, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son Is Getting Down to Business
With its deal to acquire control of Sprint and Clearwire almost complete, SoftBank head Masayoshi Son is looking forward to delivering on the promises he has made to shareholders. SoftBank says it now expects to close its investment in Sprint on Wednesday after receiving the last needed approvals from government regulators and shareholders. The move, which follows an intense battle with Dish Network , paves the way for the real work to begin. Clearwire shareholders approved that company’s deal to be swallowed up by Sprint, essentially putting both companies under SoftBank’s control. SoftBank will own 78 percent of Sprint — enough to put the carrier firmly in its control. The Japanese company plans to invest billions in the next two years to rapidly build Sprint’s high-speed LTE network as it seeks to catch up to larger rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless. In an interview with Nikkei , Son also said that SoftBank and Sprint will open a joint research and development center in California, perhaps before the end of the year. SoftBank initially planned to give less to Sprint shareholders and invest a greater amount in the wireless operations, but rejiggered its bid last month as part of its effort to defeat the rival offer from Dish. It will “give birth to new technology in Silicon Valley, the center of Internet technology,” Son told the Japanese news agency. However, all of those billions will mean added debt for SoftBank, a concern that prompted Standard and Poor’s to cut SoftBank’s debt ratings on Monday to junk bond levels.