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Spectre of blocked Sprint/T-Mobile merger spooks SoftBank

Failure to pull off deal would add extra pressure on group

Some analysts believe that Sprint, in which Softbank has an 85% stake, may be unable to survive if its planned merger with T-Mobile is blocked in a trial that ends this week. (Nikkei Montage)

TOKYO -- In the midst of an avalanche of bad news about layoffs at the startups that it backs, SoftBank Group is hoping for a rare boost of confidence: regulatory approval for its U.S. telecoms carrier Sprint to merge with rival T-Mobile. But SoftBank may not get it.

In August, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said the $26 billion merger had "taken longer than expected" but had made "significant progress" after receiving conditional approval from the U.S. Department of Justice. "From day one ... the basic strategy has been to integrate Sprint and T-Mobile" and bring a fight to the top two U.S. carriers, Verizon and AT&T, he said.

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