NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Softbank is close to a $20 billion deal that would give it a 70% stake in Sprint Nextel ( S), according to published media reports. Citing anonymous sources familiar with the situation, The Wall Street Journal and CNBC reported that Softbank will buy $8 billion of shares directly from Sprint and then another $12 billion of shares in the open market. Sprint is the No. 3 wireless provider, behind AT&T ( T) and Verizon Wireless. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll The reported Softbank deal will give Sprint more capital to use to compete against those much bigger rivals. Sprint confirmed Thursday that it was in discussions with Japanese firm Softbank about a possible "substantial" investment. The Associated Press reported Sunday that John Taylor, a representative for Sprint Nextel, declined to comment beyond the company's statement Thursday. Sprint Nextel shares closed Friday down 3 cents at $5.73.