TOKYO (Reuters) - SoftBank Corp CEO Masayoshi Son, who has met resistance from U.S. regulators to a possible acquisition of wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc, on Tuesday said there had been new movement in the past few months and expressed hope for more discussion.
He reiterated in an interview with a handful of reporters his stance that it would be good for U.S. consumers if his Sprint Corp, the No.3 U.S. mobile provider which SoftBank acquired last year, could become bigger and compete more effectively with the two largest carriers.
“We can make it more effective by getting bigger scale,” he said at Tuesday’s interview, conducted jointly with former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell who is attending SoftBank-sponsored events in Tokyo. “Us becoming a more credible competitor in scale is something good for American consumers and citizens.”
SoftBank, which aims to become the world’s largest mobile Internet company, has been eager to combine Sprint with No.4 T-Mobile US, arguing that together they would give dominant players AT&T Inc and Verizon more of a run for their money.
Sprint has agreed to pay about $40 per share for T-Mobile US, giving it a valuation of more than $32 billion, a person familiar with the matter has said, although details such as financing and a termination fee are still under negotiation.
U.S. authorities have expressed a strong reluctance to reducing the number of main wireless providers to three from four, however, and any deal is expected to face high regulatory hurdles.
Son has responded with a lobbying campaign in the U.S. arguing that three strong mobile carriers would offer better service, lower costs and more vibrant competition than the current structure of two dominant players and two smaller ones.
Asked whether resistance at the beginning of the year had changed, Son said: “I’m not in the position to make the comment on the other end, but, you know, the last few months, there’s new movement.”
“I hope that the people will have more discussions on many different angles.”
Reporting by Teppei Kasai and Yoshiyasu Shida; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Chris Gallagher