Sprint Nextel shareholders approve SoftBank bid

Softbank Corp President Masayoshi Son at a news conference to announce the deal Softbank founder Masayoshi Son has had to fight off stiff competition to acquire the stake

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Japan's SoftBank will become one of the world's largest mobile operators after shareholders in Sprint Nextel backed its revised bid for a 78% stake in the business.

SoftBank will pay $21.6bn (£13.9bn) for the stake in Sprint, which is the US's third-largest phone carrier.

In its revised bid the Japanese firm increased its offer of cash payments to Sprint shareholders.

The deal is the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese firm.

"The transaction with SoftBank should enhance Sprint's long-term value and competitive position by creating a company with greater financial flexibility," Dan Hesse, chief executive of Sprint said in a statement.

According to the deal, Sprint shareholders will have the option to receive either $7.65 in cash or one New Sprint common stock for each share of Sprint common stock they hold. The total cash consideration available to Sprint stockholders is $16.6bn.

US satellite TV operator Dish Network had also tabled a rival bid of $25.5bn for Sprint.

However, its offer - higher than that of SoftBank - would have increased Sprint's debt burden and was seen as more risky.

After receiving an improved bid from SoftBank, Sprint had given Dish till 18 June to submit an improved offer.

But last week Dish said it would not be submitting a new bid, claiming that Sprint's decision to cut short the time for Dish's due diligence meant it was "impracticable" for it to act further.

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