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SoftBank, Sprint Said to Start Offering Sony Smartphones

Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Corp. and its U.S. unit Sprint Corp. will offer Sony Corp. Xperia smartphones for the first time as the carriers seek to cut costs, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The new devices may start sales in the U.S. and Japan by the end of this year, the person said, asking not to be identified because the plan is private. Daisuke Muranaga, a spokesman for SoftBank, declined to comment. Sony spokeswoman Mai Hora declined to comment.

SoftBank, which paid $22 billion for control of Sprint last year, is trying to revive the U.S. carrier as it struggles to stem a loss of customers to larger operators Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. The company controlled by billionaire Masayoshi Son last month ended talks to buy fourth-ranked carrier T-Mobile US Inc., a person familiar with the matter said.

Sony Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai is struggling to revive his company’s iconic consumer electronics as its smartphone sales are dwarfed by Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. While the company posted a surprise quarterly profit in July, it cut its expected smartphone sales to 43 million units for the year compared with an earlier projection of 50 million.

Reuters reported on SoftBank’s plans to sell Sony phones on Aug. 29.

To contact the reporters on this story: Takashi Amano in Tokyo at tamano6@bloomberg.net; Grace Huang in Tokyo at xhuang66@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net Robert Fenner, Aaron Clark

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