Sprint, SoftBank seek federal approval for $20.1 billion deal

Sprint Nextel Corp. and its Tokyo-based suitor have formally requested federal approval of their combination on the grounds that it would be in the public interest.

SoftBank Corp.’s plan to acquire 70 percent of Sprint for $20.1 billion “promises to stimulate economic growth and provide substantial public interest benefits,” said the 101-page filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

SoftBank already has invested $3.1 billion in Sprint through a bond transaction that will later convert to stock in Sprint. It will invest an additional $4.9 billion once the deal is completed.

The companies’ filing contends that U.S. consumers will benefit from a financially stronger and more competitive Sprint backed by SoftBank’s record in Japan’s wireless market.

The companies also seek federal permission for the more than 25 percent foreign ownership of the U.S. wireless carrier.

Mark Davis,