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Softbank Is in Talks to Buy Sprint Nextel Stake, Nikkei Says

Softbank Corp., Japan’s third-largest mobile phone company, is in talks to buy control of Sprint Nextel Corp. for more than 1.5 trillion yen ($19 billion), the Nikkei newspaper reported on its website.

Softbank is seeking to buy two-thirds of Sprint Nextel’s shares, the Nikkei reported, without saying where it got the information. The Nikkei earlier reported the deal would be worth as much as 2 trillion yen.

Softbank is “checking the facts of the Nikkei report,” Mariko Osada, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo-based company said by phone.

The deal would give Softbank a base for entering the U.S. market with a compatible carrier that uses similar equipment made by Sweden’s Ericsson AB, the Nikkei reported. Softbank, the fastest-growing Japanese mobile phone provider, on Oct. 2 agreed to pay 180 billion yen for smaller local rival eAccess Ltd.

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