Faced with a competing bid to its takeover offer US-based Sprint Nextel, Japan's Softbank is reportedly considering a backup plan whereby it would acquire T-Mobile USA instead.
Softbank is in early talks with T-Mobile's parent Deutsche Telekom over a potential acquisition, three sources toldReuters.
While its $20.1 billion offer for 70% of Sprint remains Softbank's preferred option, the purchase of Deutsche Telekom's 74% stake in T-Mobile USA is one alternative being considered, according to the report.
T-Mobile is the USA's fourth largest mobile operator by market share, and has a market cap of around $15 billion. By comparison, Sprint and wireless broadband affiliate Clearwire are number three.
Sprint's board had already endorsed Softbank's takeover offer, which also involved Sprint buying the remaining 49% in Clearwire it doesn't yet own, earlier this year.
Softbank and Dish have since been publicly sparring over which company has made the superior offer for Sprint, with the rhetoric becoming increasingly uglier. Softbank will make around $5 billion in break-up fees and currency hedging gains if Sprint backs out of its deal.