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Masayoshi Son: I want to Be Number One

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 10:48am
Andrew Berg

Ahead of his speech Tuesday before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, SoftBank President and CEO Masayoshi Son said he is prepared to start a "massive price war" should regulators give their blessing to a merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. 

Son made the comments on the Charlie Rose show Monday evening. Son said he didn't know what the chances were of a merger getting regulatory approval but added that he had to give it a shot. 

"We'd like to make a deal happen but there are steps and details that we have to work out," Son told Rose. 

Son reiterated his postion that Verizon and AT&T were just too big for either Sprint or T-Mobile alone to compete with in any meaningful way.  

"We need a certain scale, but once we have enough scale to have a level fight...I would like to have the real fight, not the pseudo fight," Son said. 

When Rose asserted that Son was willing to postpone profits in order to gain market share, Son said, "Exactly, I want to be number one." 

Son is set to make his case today before the Chamber of Commerce. He's expected to argue that the United States wireless industry suffers from a lack of competition due to the strength of Verizon and AT&T. He's also been quoted as saying that U.S. networks are terrible and the U.S. should model itself after Japan. 

But Son isn't relying solely on his wite. The billionaire has reportedly enlisted some wealthy and influential lobbyists to help in his quest to sway regulators. According to the Wall Street Journal, Son's team back in Japan has been challenged by the political jockeying necessary to ensure safe passage of a deal like the one Son hopes to engineer. ()

As the Journal points out, Son has a history of aggressively going after regulators. When the Japanese government awarded Softbank competitor KDDI a large swath of 2.5 GHz spectrum, he threatened to set himself on fire.

Shares of Sprint were up slightly in early trading Tuesday to $8.77.  

 

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