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Softbank reportedly offers to give U.S. government a say over Sprint board

AFP-JIJI

Softbank is offering to give the U.S. government an unusual degree of influence over the operations of Sprint Nextel amid security concerns raised by the proposed cross-border takeover, The Wall Street Journal reported online.

“Tokyo-based Softbank has agreed to give the (U.S.) federal government the right to approve one of the directors it names to Sprint’s board,” the newspaper reported.

The director would be responsible for overseeing national security matters, the report says, adding, “People familiar with the matter said the government is also seeking the right to approve some of Sprint’s equipment purchases and wants the removal of Chinese gear from a Sprint affiliate’s network.”

A Softbank spokesman in Tokyo said the firm could not comment on the report.

U.S.-based Dish Network Corp. is also trying to buy Sprint and is trying to whip up opposition to Softbank’s offer as coming from a foreign company.

Softbank said Tuesday it plans to raise ¥400 billion through a record bond issuance in June to finance its proposed takeover of the U.S. firm.

If successful, the bond issue would be the biggest debt of single maturity sold to retail investors by a nonfinancial company in Japan, according to media reports.

Though funding may be in the pipeline, U.S. concerns about security are growing.

Last month Softbank President Masayoshi Son defended his proposed $20 billion takeover of Sprint Nextel, amid fears about the extra debt loading it would entail.