Japanese operator Softbank is reportedly close to offloading a two-thirds voting stake in local subsidiary eAccess to a consortium thought to include Samsung and Ericsson.
Softbank only completed its acquisition of eAccess – the firm behind mobile broadband specialist network EMOBILE – on 1 January after announcing the merger between Japan’s third and fourth largest mobile operators last September.
However, Reuters reports that Softbank is now planning to sell 67 percent of voting rights in eAccess in order to circumnavigate caps on how much spectrum a single operator can hold.
The sale could total “several billion yen,” says Reuters. According to a source, the shares will then be divided up between the ten or so companies in the consortium, each holding stakes worth “hundreds of millions of yen each.” Softbank is expected to remain the top shareholder.
Softbank bought about JPY180.2 billion (US$2.3 billion) of stock in eAccess last year, making it a wholly-owned subsidiary. As well as enabling Softbank to leapfrog KDDI to become Japan’s number-two operator by subscribers (behind Docomo), the deal also saw it inherit valuable new spectrum to support both its 4G rollout and major new devices such as the iPhone 5.