Sprint shareholders OK deal with Softbank

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Sprint Nextel Corp.'s shareholders on Tuesday approved SoftBank Corp.'s acquisition of the bulk of the wireless carrier company.

Softbank had been competing with Dish Network Corp. to acquire Sprint for months.

"Quite honestly, it was a ten minute long meeting and there were no questions from the other shareholders so I think we saw overwhelming shareholder support for this transaction," said Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Responsibilities, Bill White.

Sprint opted for Softbank's $21.6 billion offer, versus Dish's $25.5 billion bid for all of Sprint. White says the approval allows Softbank, the third largest wireless company in Japan, to acquire 78 percent of Sprint, the third largest wireless carrier in America.

As the areas's largest private employer, 75 hundred people work for Sprint. The deal will keep Sprint a separate company and the headquarters will stay in Overland Park, according to the company spokesperson.

"Softbank is not about job destruction. They are about, over time if you can do it, job creation. Softbank has a history of turning companies around," said White.   

CEO Dan Hesse said it was a historic day for the company and said the deal should enhance Sprint's long-term value and competitive position by creating a company with greater financial flexibility.

White said he believes it will make the company more competitive with wireless giants like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

"This really positions us to be a much stronger company going forward, a more effective competitor. It improves our financial position. It gives us greater financial flexibility. It probably puts us in the best financial position we have been in many, many years," said White.  

The deal will not be finalized until there is approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which is expected to come in early July. That is also when Clearwire Corporation shareholders will vote on a merger with Sprint about the wireless spectrum they control. That will impact video, downloads and data.

Softbank, based in Japan, is giving Sprint stockholders the choice of $7.65 for each share held or one share of New Sprint common stock.

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