October 12, 2012
Deals Of The Day 10/12/12
Struggling Sprint is looking to Japan’s SoftBank as a potential majority investor after failing during the past few years to ink a successful partnership or merger with a U.S. wireless player. Without one, there is little chance the third-ranked carrier will be able to make a strong showing in the race for Long Term Evolution (LTE). According to reports popping up in the industry and confirmation from Sprint, a majority-ownership deal with SoftBank, the Number 3 wireless operator in Japan, could be worth anywhere from $12.8 billion to $19 billion. Whether or not Sprint’s WiMAX partner Clearwire will be included in a SoftBank takeover is unclear; however, Clearwire and SoftBank reportedly are using the same kinds of gear in their LTE buildouts, so there already is a certain synergy. And there appears to be few, if any, concerns regarding such a deal passing regulatory muster. According to Jeffrey S. Silva, senior policy director/Telecommunications, Media and Technology at Washington, D.C.-based Medley Global Advisors LLC, “We would not be surprised if initial due diligence and vetting has already provided SoftBank and Sprint with valuable guidance on how best to structure such a transaction to reduce any regulatory risk. Also, there is regulatory precedent for U.S. approval of a SoftBank/Sprint deal with regard to the foreign ownership component. Our sense is the Obama administration, increasingly wary of Verizon's and AT&T's muscular positions in a wireless space where the spectrum supply is dwindling and which requires heavy capitalization for 4G LTE infrastructure development, would welcome a stronger Sprint.” And regarding any national-security implications, Silva adds, “We note that SoftBank/Sprint would be subject to a government inter-agency review process conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to assess the potential impact of such a transaction on national security. The review process takes 30 days, but can be prolonged under certain circumstances. We would expect a SoftBank/Sprint deal to be cleared by CFIUS”…CompTIA and the Orange County (Calif.) Tech Alliance crafted a strategic partnership focused on increasing grassroots advocacy for small and medium-sized technology (SMB) firms. Under the agreement, the OC Tech Alliance will affiliate with TechVoice, a partnership of the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) and participating regional technology associations. "Many of our members value advocacy, and want to have a stronger voice in decisions made by policy makers in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, especially on issues that directly impact their bottom line," says Peter Craig, chairman at the OC Tech Alliance. "This partnership will strengthen our industry's voice and provide additional benefits such as strategic networking events and shared best practices with other TechVoice chapters. It's really a win-win for all of our respective members." TechVoice currently is launching chapters in several states to develop local grassroots networks to support the SMB policy agenda.