Local Economists Optimistic about Sprint-Softbank Deal

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - A $20 billion deal may be just what Overland Park-based mobile service provider Sprint needs.

Local economists say Monday's announcement of a deal with Japanese company SoftBank will be a good thing for Sprint and the Kansas City metro area.

Masayoshi Son, owner of SoftBank, is known world-wide as one of Japan's biggest risk-takers.  Sometimes that means near-ruin for his companies, other times, it's meant billions of dollars in profits.

He's known in the business world as the "Richard Branson" of Japan.

"This deal definitely got their attention.  It's the biggest cross-border deal in Japanese history," said Nathan Mauck, Assistant Professor of Finance at UMKC.

Son is now a majority stakeholder in Sprint, and many experts say that could be good.

"I'd expect him to have some innovative ideas that's sort of his reputation, that could be a good thing for Sprint," Mauck explained.

It's what Overland Park's Chamber of Commerce President is hoping for- a stronger sprint, therefore, a stronger Overland Park economy.

"It gives Sprint the opportunity to be stronger financially and more competitive in the marketplace," said Tracey Osborne, President of Overland Park's Chamber of Commerce.

According to Nathan Mauck, the biggest concern in a situation like this would be a change in corporate headquarters, but it appears so far that Sprint is staying put in Kansas.  Instead the company's service could be the biggest change.

"The Softbank CEO made the comment specifically that he's always frustrated when he's in the states with the speed of his service, and so one of the things he said is he hopes to increase that speed in the U.S.," Mauck explained.

While the news is positive so far, some economists warn it could be a wild ride for Sprint, but with the expectation of the company expanding in the end.  The market  apparently didn't like the news that SoftBank was investing in Sprint.  SoftBank was down about six percent Monday.

SoftBank will now be in control of 70 percent of Sprint.  Sprint will have access to about $8 billion in capital.

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