Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp reported a 13 percent rise in full-year operating profit, benefiting from cost cuts and a rise in subscribers at its US wireless unit Sprint Corp. But Sprint, the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier, is still making losses and remains for key focus for investors on hopes that it will merge with rival T-Mobile US Inc. Reuters reported in February that SoftBank is prepared to cede control of Sprint to T-Mobile to clinch a deal.
“We are prepared to enter talks with an open mind about various possibilities to make the U.S. telecoms industry truly competitive,” SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son told reporters on Wednesday. “The current U.S. administration’s stance on the industry is far more open to deregulation than the previous administration.”
Son also said T-Mobile is one of the best candidates for a potential deal, but added that there are other possibilities. The internet and telecoms giant, which owns about 83 percent of Sprint, said profit for the year ended in March increased to 1.026 trillion yen ($9 billion). The results come ahead of the launch of a $100 billion fund that aims to make SoftBank the “Berkshire Hathaway of the tech industry” as telecoms services markets mature.
SoftBank, which also holds stakes in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and a wide array of other firms, expects to invest at least $25 billion over the next five years in the fund, which would be one of the world’s largest private equity investors.
“We are finalising the fund,” Son said. SoftBank did not release a forecast for the current business year, saying there were too many uncertain factors. ($1 = 113.7700 yen)
(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)