Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son's bluster may not sway FCC from stopping merger with T-Mobile


Japanese billionaire and Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son believes a perfect blend of charm and aggressiveness can put T-Mobile under its umbrella, an ideal scenario that can help it compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

Latest reports reveal that the topman of Softbank Corporation may appeal to the business community and ask assistance to persuade authorities such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the acquisition of T-Mobile will be beneficial for the telecommunications industry and the consumers.

It is an issue of scalability and efficiency when it comes to the possible acquisition of the "Uncarrier." With the subscriber base and networks of the two companies combined, Son sees a good chance of getting better deals with handset makers. This line of reasoning worked for Son in Japan but, so far, he is struggling to get the nod of antitrust officials in the U.S. However, it might still be an issue if the networks of Sprint combined with that of the smallest mobile carrier will be enough to push the two bigger companies on top.

"... the indefatigable Mr. Son now plans to appeal directly to the U.S. business community and policy makers to convince them that consolidation in the U.S. telecommunications industry would be a good thing, according to a person familiar with the matter," reported the Wall Street Journal.

For analysts from Credit Suisse, Son might have a hard time convincing FCC.

"We feel comfortable that Mr. Wheeler's commission would give the carriers a fair chance to demonstrate the benefits of a deal, but that the hurdles to prove it would be better for consumers than the current environment would be high. Our impression was that Mr. Wheeler's office is extremely pleased with the current "workable competitive environment" in wireless," the team of Credit Suisse analysts wrote.

Invitations were sent out Tuesday for an event hosted by Son where he will try to persuade the Washington Chamber of Commerce on the current situation in the wireless industry and what it will take to push for innovation.

Son has been known to have the if-I-want-it-I-get it personality. He is a popular CEO in Japan and best-known for his takeover of Vodafone Japan. He sees the combined two-thirds control of AT&T and Verizon Wireless as the biggest factor that burdens consumers with high prices.

WSJ profiled the 56-year-old businessman and highlighted how he set up a shadow headquarters in Silicon Valley where executives of Sprint personally report to him. The report also revealed that Son is planning to bring in 1,000 of his Softbank employees to help Sprint turn things around.

Another big factor that might be hindering a possible acquisition is T-Mobile's marketing aggressiveness. Led by its straight-to-the-point CEO John Legere, the company has been shaking up the industry and AT&T and Verizon have been tweaking their offerings in defense.

"We need to change Sprint's culture," Son told WSJ. That might be the best strategy to grow the 55.4 million customer base of Sprint and start crawling up its $15 billion losses since 2009.

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