Softbank confirms eAccess selldown

Dylan Bushell-Embling
18 Jan 2013

Softbank has confirmed this week's rumors that it is selling two thirds of newly-acquired mobile subsidiary eAccess.

The board yesterday signed off on a deal to transfer shares in eAccess to 11 third party buyers, including units of Samsung and Alcatel-Lucent, the company announced on its website.

The transfer has been arranged to allow eAccess, which provides mobile services under the EMOBILE brand, to “maintain a degree of independence,” Softbank said, noting that the company had informed the Japanese government in November that it was considering making the move.

But pundits believe the transaction to be motivated by a desire to ease tensions with regulators over the effect of the acquisition on market competition.

The buyers include Alcatel-Lucent Participations, Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson, Samsung Asia, Nokia Siemens Networks Holdings and several Japanese investment companies.

Following the transaction, Softbank's voting rights will be reduced to 33.29%, and eAccess will become an “equity method affiliate” of the company.

But Softbank said it does not expect the divestiture to significantly impact its results for FY12, or the original goals of the eAccess acquisition – including sharing of network resources and collaboration in base station operations.

Softbank arranged to buy eAccess in October for $2.3 billion, largely to help improve its network resources in the face of exploding demand. The company made eAccess a wholly-owned subsidiary on January 1.

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