SoftBank clears final hurdle in bid for Sprint Nextel

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SoftBank clears final hurdle in bid for Sprint Nextel

SoftBank’s $21.6 billion bid for mobile carrier Sprint Nextel won the support it needs from the last U.S. regulatory body reviewing the transaction, said people familiar with the matter.

Two of the three members of the Federal Communications Commission have voted for the deal, said the people, who asked not to be identified. The approval also covers Sprint’s offer to buy the half of wireless operator Clearwire it doesn’t already own.

The approval sanctions a re-ordering in the growing mobile market by boosting No. 3 Sprint against top U.S. mobile carriers Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. The fourth- and fifth-largest U.S. carriers combined May 1 into T-Mobile US Inc. after that company bought MetroPCS Communications.

Justin Cole, an FCC spokesman, declined to comment.

SoftBank won a bidding war for Sprint and trumped a run at Clearwire by Englewood, Colorado-based Dish Network. The rebuffed satellite provider may turn its attention to T-Mobile if it still intends to enter the wireless industry, according to Stifel Financial Corp.

Sprint shareholders approved the deal June 25. Tokyo-based SoftBank will own 78 percent of Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kansas.

SoftBank, led by its billionaire founder Masayoshi Son, has pledged innovative pricing and network investments.

The FCC’s review of the SoftBank-Sprint deal was to determine whether the transfer of control of Sprint’s airwaves is in the public’s interest.

U.S. antitrust and security officials earlier cleared SoftBank’s bid. The companies gave assurances they would limit use of telecommunications gear made by Huawei Technologies, based in Shenzhen, China.

A congressional committee last year said Huawei’s connections to the Chinese army created the potential for electronic spying. Bloomberg
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