Vodafone sells Japan unit for $15b

Internet services company Softbank is acquiring Vodafone Group's struggling Japan unit for 1.75 trillion yen ($15 billion), according to an Associated Press report.


The report said the purchase of 97.7% of Vodafone's Japan unit would allow Softbank to take over the more than 15 million Japanese users who had signed on to the carrier, as well as its mobile network, instead of starting from scratch.


Meanwhile, Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone company by revenue, faced tough competition from the two biggest mobile phone companies in Japan, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, the report said.


That competition was expected to intensify further in the fall, when consumers in Japan would be allowed to switch carriers without changing phone numbers, the report added.


Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin had been under pressure from investors as the company's share of the Japanese market had shrunk over the past two years after it delayed the launch of 3G services in the region, the report further said.


The report said that according to Sarin, the company's agreement to sell its Japanese unit to Softbank was definitive and that it would complete the deal even if a rival bid emerges.