Japan's SoftBank says in talks to buy Brightstar stake

Reuters

* Deal for stake would be worth more than $1 billion -Nikkei

* SoftBank aiming to boost bargaining power with handsetmakers

* SoftBank keeping up acquisition drive after $21.6 blnSprint deal

TOKYO, Oct 16 (Reuters) - SoftBank Corp is in talksto buy a stake in U.S. wireless device distributor BrightstarCorp in a deal that media reported could be worth more than $1billion and would boost its bargaining power with hardwaresuppliers.

The company's billionaire founder Masayoshi Son has saidthat one of the key benefits of an earlier purchase of U.S.mobile carrier Sprint Corp would be to bolster the group'sposition with handset makers, an industry dominated globally bySamsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc.

The Nikkei business daily said the Japanese tech andtelecoms group was in the final stages of talks to buy an up to70 percent stake in Brightstar in a transaction worth more than100 billion yen ($1 billion).

SoftBank said in a statement: "We are in discussions on thismatter but at this time we have not made any decision."

The talks mark a renewed acquisition drive by SoftBank afterthe $21.6 billion Sprint purchase completed in July.

SoftBank, Japan's third-largest company by marketcapitalisation, said on Tuesday it would pay 150 billion yen fora 51 percent stake in Finnish mobile game maker Supercell, whosehit games include "Clash of Clans" and "Hay Day."

"The volume effects and bargaining effects should begin toemerge in handsets in about six months to a year," Son told anevent in late September, referring to the Sprint acquisition.

"Our negotiating power has got a major boost."

According to Brightstar's website, it purchases handsetsfrom more than 100 manufacturers including Samsung, Apple, LGElectronics Inc and Sony Corp, supplyingcarriers in markets worldwide.

The Nikkei said SoftBank would make the purchase from aninvestment fund and other sources with an eye to eventuallyboosting its holding to around 70 percent. It added that thedeal would be completed as early as the end of this year.

SoftBank's shares rose 2.2 percent to 7,400 yen onWednesday, their highest close in a week, compared with a 0.2percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei average. SoftBankhas gained 136 percent since the start of the year, faroutpacing the Nikkei's nearly 40 percent rise.

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