Shares of U.S. telecom, Sprint Corporation (NYSE:SB) fell 5% or $0.25 to $4.75 Monday on news that Japan’s SoftBank, which owns an 83% stake in Sprint revealed it would buy chipmaker ARM Holdings (:ARMHN/A) in a deal set to cost more than $32 billion.
The main reason for the slide - investor fears that SoftBank may be shifting resources that could have been used to boost Sprint.
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A recent Wells Fargo research report noted, "There has been some speculation that SoftBank would buy some of Sprint's debt as a sign of support for the asset." Given the cost of the ARM acquisition and the fact SoftBank has significant debt on its books already, the likelihood of such a move is now deeply diminished.
Internet Of Things
SoftBank’s interest in ARM, which makes wireless chip designs used by both Samsung and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPLB) is driven by the fact ARM is a major player in the chip market for the Internet Of Things (IoT).
On news of the acquisition, ARM's U.S. shares soared almost 41% to $66.17 while SoftBank’s fell 7.8% to $26.22.
Possible Next Moves For Sprint
While the move by SoftBank probably rules out any attempt by SoftBank to take Sprint private, all hope is not lost, at least not in theory.
Macquarie Securities said in a research report last week that, "while the probability is low, one scenario could be (for SoftBank) to tender for the remaining 17% of Sprint. Per Sprint bylaws, if SoftBank's voting interest (currently 83%) creeps up to 85%, it shall tender for the remainder at a price based on Sprint's volume-weighted average closing price for the 20 days preceding."
Another speculated deal, also likely dead on arrival at this point, was a merger involving Sprint and T-Mobile US. Such a deal was considered desirable because it would reduce the number of nationwide wireless carriers to 3 and help curtail competition.
Of course that reality alone was reason enough for U.S. regulators to signal they would reject such a move when first proposed in 2014. Interested parties, however, hoped two additional factors including ongoing government auction of wireless spectrum and the potential appointment of a new Federal Communications Commission chairman following the November U.S. presidential election might reinvigorate chances for success.