Under the deal announced Sunday, April 29, to merge Sprint with T-Mobile in the United States, SoftBank will end up with a minority stake of about 27% in the combined company. T-Mobile’s owner, Deutsche Telekom, will hold around 42% and also have control of the board and voting rights.
The merger, if it gets past regulators, will fulfill Softbank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son’s long-standing goal of creating a heavyweight challenger to AT&T and Verizon. But he won’t be in the driver’s seat.
Son, an ambitious dealmaker, has seen his vision fall apart before, reported CNN. He masterminded SoftBank’s 2013 takeover of Sprint with the aim of quickly merging it with T-Mobile. But concerns about regulatory challenges from the Obama administration effectively killed that plan and talks with T-Mobile ended in 2014.
“I lost my confidence that moment,” Son said at an earnings presentation early last year. “I really didn’t like the world anymore, I did a lot of thinking, and I lost my hair,” he joked, gesturing to his bald pate.
There is significant skepticism to the deal being approved, as noted by Columbia University law professor Tim Wu in a tweet. Both companies’ stock traded at significantly lower prices, closing on Monday, April 30 6.22% (T-Mobile) and 13.69% (Sprint) lower than the market close on Friday, April 27. At time of writing, SoftBank Group was trading 2.2% higher.