SoftBank Corp., the Tokyo-based conglomerate that owns Sprint Corp. remains committed to the Overland Park-based company’s turnaround, according to SoftBank’s second in command.
That would be Nikesh Arora, a former Google executive who is now in line to succeed Masayoshi Son, founder and chief executive of SoftBank. The Wall Street Journal reported on his remarks at the Converge technology conference in Hong Kong this week.
Son tapped Marcelo Claure last August to lead Sprint’s turnaround. Arora had joined SoftBank about a month earlier.
Arora’s comments, as reported by the Journal, were brief and took some context to understand. The commitment sounded like this.
“(The) Telecom business is a long-term business...It takes a while to shift the direction in the industry,” Arora said, according to the Journal.
Another way to think about the commitment is the $21.6 billion SoftBank paid for roughly 80 percent ownership of Sprint. Investors also are watching to see how Sprint might find the money to compete in a U.S. government auction of valuable wireless airwaves, called spectrum. Cellphone networks need spectrum to operate. Estimates of Sprint’s needs in the spectrum auction hover around $10 billion.
The Journal’s report didn’t address the spectrum auction. But it said Arora did talk money when asked whether Sprint would need a merger – presumably with rival T-Mobile US Inc. – to succeed.
“It just requires capital to transform the products” at Sprint, he said, according to The Journal.
For more background, RCR Wireless News tied Arora’s comments via the Journal to Sprint’s plans to boost its wireless network’s ability to use the spectrum it has. The plan involves adding thousands of small cellular sites to its network of towers, and presumably some new towers, too.
RCR Wireless added some detail about a discussion Claure had with Miami’s mayor in June. Investors hope to hear more about Sprint’s network improvement plans when it announces earnings on Tuesday.
To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @mdkcstar