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Business deals

SoftBank's Son loosens grip on Sprint as passion shifts to AI and robots

Removing US carrier slashes Japanese group's debt burden

The looming shift to 5G technology factored into SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son's decision to cede control of Sprint as it merges with T-Mobile. (Photo by Tomoki Mera)

TOKYO/NEW YORK -- Five years after buying U.S. telecommunications company Sprint and launching talks with T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom to combine the two subsidiaries, SoftBank Group Chairman Masayoshi Son has decided to relinquish control of the carrier he spent nearly $22 billion to acquire.

The decision comes as Son realizes that neither Sprint nor T-Mobile would be able to keep up with American market front-runners Verizon Communications and AT&T as they prepare to roll out 5G services, unless the weaker two contenders joined forces.

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