SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son (pictured) insisted its US business Sprint is “self-sufficient and not in any rush” to consolidate, before opening the door to “any possibility” which may arise in the future.
Speaking on the company’s fiscal Q4 earnings call (covering the period to end-March), Son said he hoped the new US government, led by President Trump, is more open to consolidation, and he remained open minded to a potential deal.
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure also weighed in, stating the operator was “like everybody else looking in at different options”, while adding 5G would likely change the game once again when it comes to growth opportunities.
However, neither executive revealed any potential merger targets, despite rumours surrounding a possible deal with number three player T-Mobile US.
During its fiscal 2016, Claure said number four US mobile operator Sprint “took a big step forward” in the second year of a turnaround plan, as the troubled US firm continued to grow its subscriber base amid increased hype around unlimited tariffs.
The company said in a statement it added 42,000 postpaid phone customers in fiscal Q4, “in a competitive quarter where Verizon and AT&T introduced unlimited data plans”, which led to a “tenth consecutive quarter of year over year improvement”.
Along with T-Mobile US, all four of the country’s major operators have launched unlimited plans in recent months.
Son “welcomed” the unlimited war, hailing Sprint’s spectrum assets as up to the task of supporting this business model.
Sprint’s total net subscriber additions totalled 187,000 in its fiscal Q4, which included prepaid net additions of 180,000, and wholesale and affiliate net additions of 125,000.
While the operator recorded a net loss of 118,000 post pay customers in the quarter, it ended the period with a total customer base of 59.7 million, a slight increase from 58.8 million in the same quarter the year prior.
The company reported a net loss of $283 million, compared with a loss of $554 million last year. Operating revenue of $8.5 billion in the recent quarter was up 6 per cent year-on-year.
Sprint also hailed full year operating income of $1.8 billion as its highest in ten years, improving $1.5 billion year-on-year. Fiscal Q4 operating income grew from $8 million to $470 million in the recent period.
As part of the company’s five year turnaround, which is now at the half way point, Claure said Sprint achieved a $2.1 billion year-on-year reduction in full year costs, bringing total reductions to $3.4 billion over the past two fiscal years.
In conjunction with the earnings release, Sprint also unveiled Magic Box, which it claimed is the “world’s first all wireless small cell”. The free device (manufactured by Airspan) is designed to boost data coverage and download speeds inside and outside homes and offices by connecting to a Sprint cell site, offering average speed boosts of 200 per cent.
Son said the combination of the device and Sprint’s spectrum assets would see the company “achieve number one or number two in LTE network performance by the end of next year”.