* Softbank acquisition values eAccess at $1.84 bln
* Softbank offers more than three times eAccess share price
* Softbank says eAccess deal will take it past KDDI by
(Adds confirmation of deal, details)
TOKYO, Oct 1 Softbank Corp will acquire
smaller rival eAccess Ltd in a $1.84 billion deal as
Japan's No.3 mobile carrier steps up its battle for market share
with its nearest competitor KDDI Corp.
Softbank will pay 52,000 yen ($670) for every eAccess share
under a share swap that will be completed in February, Softbank
said in a statement on Monday, a premium of more than three
times eAccess's closing price of 15,070 yen on Friday.
Softbank is setting the next stage of a market share war
that intensified after KDDI broke Softbank's monopoly on Apple
Inc's iPhone last year. Softbank, the first Japanese
mobile service carrier to carry the popular smartphone, is vying
with KDDI for iPhone devotees with the launch of the iPhone5
The addition of eAccess's subscribers would give Softbank a
total of 39 million users, outstripping KDDI's 36 million
customer base, Softbank founder Masayoshi Son said at a press
briefing in Tokyo.
The generous premium was value for money because of the
subscribers, increased network capacity and cost-saving that
Softbank would gain, Son said.
"We are paying more than triple the current trading price of
eAccess because the benefits come from the company's existing
customer base. We do not think our shareholders will view this
as a bad tie-up at all," Son told reporters.
Shares in eAccess jumped 26.1 percent to 19,000 yen on the
Tokyo bourse on Monday, prompting a trading suspension. Softbank
closed 1.8 percent lower at 3,105 yen.
The deal will be the sixth-largest merger involving a
Japanese firm since the start of the business year on April 1,
behind U.S.-based Micron Technology Inc's acquisition of
bankrupt chipmaker Elpida Memory Inc.
Softbank is wooing existing subscribers with a trade-in deal
on older models, while KDDI is seeking to draw new users with a
tethering service allowing customers to connect to laptops and
other devices via their iPhones.
Son also said he will launch a tethering service in December
helped by eAccess.
Both Softbank and KDDI compete for subscribers with market
leader NTT Docomo, which has 60.5 million users. It
does not offer the iPhone.
($1 = 77.8000 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Mari Saito, Tim Kelly and Mayumi Negishi; Editing
by Ryan Woo)