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Softbank at US crossroads

Japanese telco may seek merger for Sprint -- or sell it off

SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son reports the interim results of U.S. cellular service provider Sprint in Tokyo on Feb. 8.

TOKYO -- It looks like SoftBank Group is on the verge of making a difficult decision regarding its U.S. wireless operation.

The Japanese telecommunications company, led by the ambitious Masayoshi Son, bought Sprint in 2013. Cost-cutting efforts have helped to significantly improve the U.S. mobile phone carrier's earnings. But Sprint's subscriber base remains well behind those of the U.S.'s two top carriers, Verizon Communications and AT&T. What is more, it has recently slipped beneath T-Mobile, now the U.S.'s No. 3 cellphone service provider.

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