SoftBank's profit zooms on Sprint turnaround

UPDATE 1-SoftBank profit climbs, keen to talk about a deal for Sprint (9984, S)

Sprint is the fourth largest wireless provider in the US, having fallen behind T-Mobile in terms of subscriber base.

However, the problem with that idea, Enderle said, is that T-Mobile is more successful in the marketplace lately and "were Sprint's leadership to prevail in the merger, the T-Mobile growth would likely stall". T-Mobile stock closed at $66, up 0.8 percent, while Sprint slid 0.3 percent to $7.88.

SoftBank's biggest business is running mobile-phone providers in Japan and the US, but its empire spans full or partial stakes in hundreds of companies including British chip architect ARM Holdings, China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Yahoo Japan Corp.

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Sprint may not have formally hung a "for sale" sign on its headquarters, but the CEO of its parent company might as well have.

T-Mobile US is a cash cow for the German telecom service operator, which owns 64 percent of the USA mobile carrier. Yet, the talks may not interest T-Mobile anymore, he added.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere made claims that his company was the first among competitors to announce plans for "truly nationwide" 5G, saying that AT&T and Verizon's current plans-in-development rely too much on limited hotspots instead of wide-spread coverage. Deutsche Telekom declined to comment on Son's comments Wednesday. The gag order lifted April 27. They also agreed not to make a sizable wireless deal without approval from the other. Ray said the biggest news there is about High Performance User Equipment (HPUE), a handset-based technology that probably provides some benefits for Sprint, but he said it's a far cry from leveling the playing field with mid-band spectrum.

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Comcast and Charter could potentially partner to buy either carrier, they added, but the operation of a jointly owned wireless network could be hard.

With T-Mobile showing such strong growth, it's not hard to see why Son is renewing his interest in a merger, said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

A merger of Sprint and T-Mobile would create the second-largest USA wireless carrier with 99.1 million retail subscribers compared with AT&T's 91.2 million and Verizon's 113.9 million, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

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The investment fund is almost ready for its official launch, Mr. Son said. "I would like to explore variety of possibility regarding the industry consolidation".

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