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Sprint-SoftBank Deal 'Audacious,' Could Make or Break Both Companies

By Kelly Teal
October 15, 2012 - News
Continued from page 1

"This is an audacious deal."

For one thing, SoftBank's investment in an American company could prove risky.

"Earlier this month, SoftBank announced plans to acquire rival eAccess for $2.3 billion in a bid to become the second-largest mobile operator in Japan, and adding a huge international deal on top of that increases the risk that management will be so stretched that neither deal will go to plan," Roberts said.

At the same time, Sprint must finish implementing Network Vision, its deployment of a new 3G network and rollout of advanced LTE, in the form of TD- and FD-LTE, nationwide. For the Analysys Mason analysts, Sprint couldn't have gotten backing at a better time. The $8 billion Sprint will be receiving should help it keep up with AT&T and Verizon, "and try and get ahead of T-Mobile," they said. Still, even with SoftBank's help, Sprint remains a "distant No. 3" in the United States, "with an aggressive T-Mobile close behind," said Nicoll and Hilton. Nonetheless, they remain cautiously positive on SoftBank-Sprint, they said.

What all of this means for the indirect channel remains unknown. A Sprint spokeswoman told Channel Partners on Monday it's too soon to discuss particulars.

Even with SoftBank in control, Sprint continues to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares closed down 4 cents on Monday, at $5.69.

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