By Alex Sherman and Aaron Kirchfeld
SoftBank Corp., which is seeking to combine its Sprint Corp. (S) unit with T-Mobile US Inc., has entered direct talks with T-Mobile’s owner Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE) to resolve obstacles to a potential deal, people with knowledge of the matter said.
While SoftBank has assurances from banks that financing for a deal will be available, an agreement could still take months to reach, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Unresolved issues include how much cash and stock SoftBank will pay for Deutsche Telekom’s 67 percent (TMUS) stake in T-Mobile, and how Sprint and T-Mobile will be integrated, two people said.
Deutsche Telekom wants an all-cash offer for T-Mobile, which has a market value of about $26 billion, and SoftBank is trying to finance a deal to provide as much cash as possible, one of the people said. SoftBank founder and president Masayoshi Son is seeking to borrow about $20 billion from banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Mizuho Bank Ltd. and Credit Suisse Group AG, people said last month. Sprint would take on any debt relating to the deal, one person said.
Combining Sprint and T-Mobile would give each company a better chance of long-term success against AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. Sprint’s management isn’t controlling deal talks and knows Son will make the decision on whether or not to push ahead with a deal, another person said. Sprint Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse knew Son wanted to acquire T-Mobile when he agreed to sell SoftBank the majority of the company, the person said.