Sprint’s future will unfold in the near future or “could take a little while,” according to the wireless carrier’s chairman, Masayoshi Son.
Son spoke in Tokyo where he is CEO and founder of SoftBank Group Corp., the company that owns more than 80 percent of Sprint. His comment had been reported by industry analyst Walt Piecyk with BTIG Research.
“Chairman Masa Son said a partner for Sprint could be in the near future or ‘could take a little while,’ ” Piecyk wrote in a Twitter post Monday while listening to SoftBank’s conference call.
Son’s comment elaborated on a similar statement last week by Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. Claure, who recently joined SoftBank’s board of directors, had said a decision about Sprint’s future could come in the near future.
“We’ve had enough conversations to start making choices soon,” Claure had said Tuesday after Sprint announced its first quarterly profit in three years.
The Associated Press said SoftBank’s quarterly profit nearly disappeared, falling 98 percent to $50 million, largely because of losses from investments in China’s e-commerce company Alibaba. It said SoftBank’s revenues climbed 3 percent to $20 billion.
Neither Son nor Claure has said what they expect SoftBank and Sprint to decide. Analysts say there are many options.
Most likely would be an agreement to combine Sprint and rival wireless carrier T-Mobile US, Jonathan Chaplin, analyst at New Street Research, said in a note last week.
Such a deal, however, also could include a cable company, Chaplin wrote, either as a full partner in a merger or in a network-sharing agreement with more than one cable company. He said potential deals could include cable giant Comcast, Charter Communications or Altice.
Charter, which operates the Spectrum cable service formerly called Time Warner Cable, had acknowledged talks with Sprint last month, but Sprint officials disagreed about the nature of the discussions.
Claure has said publicly that a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would make the strongest deal in terms of benefits and cost savings. He said other transactions without T-Mobile also would strengthen Sprint and that the company could continue on its own.
Analysts have questioned whether federal officials would agree to a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. Son had pushed for a possible deal in 2014 before giving up on the plan when President Barack Obama’s administration made clear it was not interested.
Expectations are that President Donald Trump’s administration would look at a merger more favorably, though the president’s decision-makers are not fully in place. He has nominated Makan Delrahim to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division, but Delrahim has not been confirmed by the Senate.
Bloomberg reported Monday that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren had put a hold on Delrahim’s nomination, which would delay a vote at least until September.