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Sprint had talks with four other companies before SoftBank deal

People walk past a Sprint store in New York December 17, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
People walk past a Sprint store in New York December 17, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider, said that it talked to four different companies about a potential deal before it announced its agreement to sell 70 percent of its shares to Japan's SoftBank Corp for $20 billion.

Sprint said in its proxy filing on Monday that it had talks with a company it referred to as company W between September 2011 and February 2012 about a potential combination but the talks did not result in a deal. It was likely referring to discussions with MetroPCS Communications, which Sprint came close to buying for $8 billion including debt last year, according to sources.

From May through September 2011, Sprint said that it had talks with another company it referred to as company X about a deal in which Sprint would acquire additional spectrum and that company's shareholders would receive substantial equity in Sprint. The pair would also enter other commercial arrangements.

In May 2012, Sprint said that it started talks with "company Y" regarding a potential combination with Sprint, after previously having discussed a potential business combination and a joint venture. Those discussions continued from time to time through September but ultimately did not lead to a deal, Sprint said.

After it started talks with Softbank in July last year, Sprint said that they had conceptual discussions about "a potential three-party transaction among Sprint, SoftBank and Company Y".

Sprint also noted that it discussed spectrum partnership opportunities with a fourth company it referred to as company Z from May 2012 until September 2012. When a Sprint executive discussed the possibility of a business combination with that company, the chief executive of company Z said that he "was currently focusing on certain regulatory issues" concerning his own company. He said that he believed that Sprint's market value at the time "was in excess of his view of Sprint's fundamental value."

Sprint declined to disclose the names of the companies it referred to in its proxy statement.

(Reporting by Sinead Care; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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