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Report: Softbank CEO Son heads to U.S. to charm Sprint investors

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Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son will head to the United States this week to win over major Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) investors and convince them that his company's proposed 70 percent purchase of Sprint for $20.1 billion is a solid one, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Son must convince U.S. investors of his ability to help Sprint continue with its turnaround--and thrive with more financial backing. Analysts have said the deal could allow Sprint to better compete against Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), pay down its debt and maybe even acquire a smaller competitor.

"When you go into battle, you need a war chest. From that war chest, you buy rifles, ammunition and pay your soldiers," Son said in his presentation to investors on Money. "In that way, we're providing the war funds."

Investors will need assurance that not only will the deal be approved by regulators but that the complicated transaction will benefit shareholders. To do all of that, Son will need to draw on his reputation as a risk-taker and a man of bravado--someone who breaks from the mold of the typical Japanese executive by being provocative and bold.

Son, who is Japan's second richest man with a fortune of $7.2 billion, according to Forbes, studied in the United States and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. According to the AP, while there, Son invented a pocket translator, which he later sold to Sharp for $1 million. He used that money to start Softbank in 1981, building it from a computer software business into an online and mobile powerhouse.

The confidence he has had in business and in making risky bets--including the 2006 takeover of Vodafone Japan--was on display Monday when he explained why he made the Sprint deal. "I'm a man," Son said in Japanese, according to the Journal. "It's part of my male ego to strive to be No. 1."

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this AP article

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