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SoftBank’s CEO meeting Sprint shareholders to push for buyout support

The chief executive of Japan’s SoftBank Corp. is in the United States this week to drum up support for his $20 billion bid for Sprint Nextel.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son told the Reuters news service that he will be meeting with major shareholders of Overland Park-based Sprint. Details about Son’s visit were not disclosed.

However, Bloomberg News reported that Son told investors Wednesday in New York that his takeover bid for Sprint will bring about $3 billion in annual operating savings by 2017.

The merger plan will lead to $2 billion a year in savings on average in 2014 to 2017, and then $3 billion annually after that, investors who attended the meeting told Bloomberg. The merged companies will also be able to cut Sprint’s capital spending by about 35 percent a year, Son told the investors.

The Japanese company last fall proposed to buy 70 percent of Sprint, the nation’s third-largest wireless communications company. But last month, Dish Network offered $25.5 billion for Sprint.

Son last week for the first time publicly criticized Dish’s bid as inferior to SoftBank’s. He also said he had no intention of raising his offer.

But several large Sprint shareholders told Reuters that Son may have a tough time selling the deal as it now stands. The investors said Son would need to raise his bid to win their support at Sprint’s June 12 shareholder meeting.

Sprint declined to comment Wednesday on Son’s meetings with shareholders.

The company has appointed a committee of directors to review Dish’s offer, but there were reports that Sprint was holding off on granting the satellite television network access to its financial records because of questions over Dish’s ability to line up funding and generate the necessary cost savings to make the deal viable to shareholders.

Dish did not comment Wednesday on the Sprint bid. The Colorado-based company is scheduled to release its latest quarterly financial results Thursday.

Shares in Dish closed at $39.61, down $1.17 or about 2.9 percent. Sprint shares climbed 10 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $7.32.

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