Japan's SoftBank says in talks to buy Brightstar stake

Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - SoftBank Corp is in talks to buy a stake in U.S. wireless device distributor Brightstar Corp in a deal that media reported could be worth more than $1 billion and would boost its bargaining power with hardware suppliers.

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

The Nikkei business daily said the Japanese tech and telecoms group was in the final stages of talks to buy an up to 70 percent stake in Brightstar in a transaction worth more than 100 billion yen ($1 billion).

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

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

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

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

"Our negotiating power has got a major boost."

According to Brightstar's website, it purchases handsets from more than 100 manufacturers including Samsung, Apple, LG Electronics Inc and Sony Corp, supplying carriers in markets worldwide.

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

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

($1 = 98.5950 Japanese yen)

(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo and Edmund Klamann; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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