SoftBank may bid for Charter Communications to save Sprint

SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi SonSoftBank Group may bid for Charter Communications as part of the strategy of its chairman Masayoshi Son to save Sprint and enter the U.S. cable market, Bloomberg reports.

Registration opens for ISP Summit 2017

Cable billionaire John Malone owns 21 percent stake in Charter through his Liberty Broadband. Masayoshi Son has met with Malone and Warren Buffett about making potential investments in Sprint. SoftBank owns Sprint.

Charter has long-term debt of more than $63 billion. Its revenue totaled $40.8 billion in the past year.

Charter Communications on Sunday rejected a proposal from SoftBank to combine Sprint with its operations. SoftBank earlier approached T-Mobile, the third-biggest U.S. wireless carrier, to buy Sprint.

The Japanese billionaire’s Vision Fund has already raised $93 billion for tech investments, winning backing from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, as well as Apple and Qualcomm.

Last year, SoftBank paid $32 billion for chipmaker ARM Holdings in a bet on the Internet of Things (IoT).

A combined Charter and Sprint could offer a suite of telecommunications services to customers, from home broadband internet to wireless plans, and compete with the packages sold by phone giants AT&T and Verizon Communications. Both AT&T and Verizon have strong ambitions to grow their media business.

The report said Charter and Comcast were in talks with Sprint over possible deals to resell wireless service under their own brands. Later, Charter decided against a reselling deal with Sprint.

A combination of Sprint and Charter would put together the fourth-largest U.S. wireless carrier with the No. 2 U.S. cable company. Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kansas, has a market value of almost $33 billion and even more in long-term debt — putting pressure on Son to make a deal as Sprint’s losses mount and bond maturities approach.

JPMorgan estimates synergies from combining Sprint with Charter at about $2 billion a year.

Charter has a pact with Comcast that could complicate a telecom deal with Sprint. The cable companies agreed in May to work together on any transaction with a wireless company in the next year. That means if Charter changes its mind and decides to merge with Sprint, Comcast would have a say in the matter.