* FCC is asked to defer action on the deal
* Expert sees little risk to the acquisition
WASHINGTON Jan 29 The Justice Department and
the Department of Homeland Security are examining the proposed
takeover of Sprint Nextel by Japan's Softbank Corp
for national security and other issues, and have asked
the U.S. telecommunications regulator to defer any action on the
Softbank and Sprint agreed last year that Softbank Corp
would pay $20 billion for control of Sprint Nextel Corp, giving
the Japanese firm entry into the U.S. market and Sprint, the No.
3 U.S. carrier, much-needed cash.
The Justice Department and the Department of Homeland
Security wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission
saying they were looking at the deal, according to a filing at
the FCC on Tuesday.
"We therefore request that the commission defer action until
such time as the agencies notify the commission of the
completion of their review," the letter said.
Sprint said the letter related to an investigation of the
deal by the inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the
United States, which looks at significant foreign investments
into the United States.
"This is a routine request when working with the CFIUS
agencies regarding national security," said Sprint spokesman
The FCC had no comment on the letter.
The review is likely aimed at ensuring that Softbank
continues to work with U.S. law enforcement to create wiretaps
when there is a court order, said James Lewis, a cybersecurity
expert with the Center for Strategic and International Affairs.
The DHS concern is likely focused on ensuring the security
of critical infrastructure, he said.
He said there was minimal risk to the deal.