Softbank-Vodafone Deal Has Promising Ring

A merger could reverse one's anticlimactic performance in Japan and give the other an easy way to dive into the mobile-phone market there

On Feb. 28, Vodafone's Japan chief, Bill Morrow, put on a brave face and declared at a press event in Tokyo that the No. 3 mobile-phone operator was staging a comeback. Holding a new flagship handset made by Sharp, Morrow said the unit stood poised for growth in 2006, after a tough year of dwindling market share in Japan, the most competitive and dynamic mobile-phone market in the world. Vodafone Japan's third-generation, or 3G, cell-phone services, offering consumers an array of Internet-based services, were catching on, he insisted.

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