Japan’s most famous zainichi Korean, Masayoshi Son (a.k.a. 손정의 – Son Jeong-ui), is leading Softbank’s attempt to buy around 70% of U.S. based Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE : S) for $20.1 billion. The deal has a complicated (expected with a company like Sprint, that has over $20 billion in debt) structure, but will essentially be $12.1 billion in cash to shareholders and $8 billion in stock buy back, or new equity to pay down debt and fund operations (details to be worked out).
This deal will move Japan’s Softbank from the #3 mobile carrier in Japan to the #3 mobile carrier in the world. However, what Softbank gains in scale it will also gain in debt. Both companies are already debt ladened, which essentially means that Masayoshi’s margin of error is small here. He doesn’t have a lot of time, or chances, to turn Sprint around. However, Son is a bit of an unconventional Japanese executive. He is outspoken, takes huge risks, often changes business models, shifts paradigms, uses M&A and aggressive financing methods to engineer growth and turnarounds. All things that are not typical for the usual Japanese management system.
This will be the largest overseas acquisition for a Japanese company, ever.