Updated from July 31 with additional information.
The next big milestone in Softbank Corp. founder Masayoshi Son's career of disruptive acquisitions across the globe will likely come in the "near future," Son told investors on Monday.
Son fanned expectations that Softbank-controlled Sprint Corp. (S) - Get SENTINELONE, INC. Report is on the verge of a major deal during his company's first fiscal-quarter earnings call, citing "multiple business consolidation parties."
While Son did not provide any details, T-Mobile USA Inc. (TMUS) - Get T-Mobile US, Inc. Report and Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR) - Get Charter Communications, Inc. Class A Report are the leading candidates for Softbank to combine with.
While Son would rather combine Sprint, the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier with T-Mobile USA to challenge AT&T Inc. (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report , acquiring Charter for more than $160 billion is reportedly plan B.
It is far from certain, of course, how things will turn out. A outright merger of Sprint and Charter would combine a nationwide wireless carrier with the second-largest broadband provider in the U.S. While the company would gain scale and a greater ability to combine video and wireless services, buying T-Mobile USA would create a large mobile carrier that could send a charge through the wireless industry.
Softbank's investments range from Chinese ride sharing Didi outfit Chuxing and wireless chipmaker Arm Holdings, to Yahoo! Japan and Jack Ma's e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Sponsored ADR Report , to name just a few.
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The SoftBank founder told investors in a May earnings call that the "gold rush" that saw the creation of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report , Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report Google and Facebook Inc. (FB) - Get Facebook, Inc. Class A Report is not at its end. "For example, transportation has been [redefined] by Uber and Didi," he said."Same applies to many industry: healthcare or to food, agriculture, productions, so many older industry is going to be redefined," he said. With the creation of the new Softbank Vision Fund--a $100 billion technology war chest with capital from Apple Inc. (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report , Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) - Get QUALCOMM Incorporated Report , the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and others--Son's global ambitions are just getting underway.
Son, who has a Bachelors in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley, founded SoftBank in 1981. The company's early investments included Yahoo! Japan and Alibaba, and Son holds board seats on both companies.
Softbank looked to diversify beyond software after the 2000 Internet bust, and invested in properties such as landline broadband in Japan. Son shook up Japan's wireless business in 2006, with the $15 billion purchase of Vodafone Group plc's (VOD) - Get Vodafone Group Plc Sponsored ADR Report Japanese wireless business. Softbank competed aggressively on price against market leaders NTT Docomo Inc. (DCM) and KDDI Corp. and today is Japan's No. 3 wireless carrier, with more than 39 million subscribers according to the Telecommunications Carriers Association.
Son set his sites on the world's largest wireless market with the $21.6 billion purchase of a controlling stake in Sprint in 2012, outbidding Dish Corp. (DISH) - Get DISH Network Corporation Class A Report founder Charlie Ergen.
Ride sharing has become a theme for Softbank, which led led a $210 million investment round in Indian group Ola in 2014 and put $5 billion in Chinese group Didi Chuxing this year. Didi and SoftBank announced they would invest $2 billion in Singapore taxi- and car-hailing app Grab. SoftBank reportedly held talks about an investment in Uber.
Softbank spent $32 billion on UK chipmaker Arm Holdings last year. Son told investors during the May call that the deal would give Softbank a hand in developing 5g wireless technology and in collaborating with Arm partner Qualcomm. Sprint, Arm and Qualcomm said in May that they would develop 5g technology this year.
Charter's 22 million residential Internet subscribers would fit with Softbank's portfolio of technology and broadband assets. Mobile apps and technology are at the core of an investment strategy that connect's Arm's chips with Sprints network and apps that drive services such as DiDi and Grab, however. T-Mobile USA is a better fit for Son's disruptive ambitions.