After it purchased Sprint for $21.6 billion, who now owns Clearwire, SoftBank is enhancing its position in the wireless industry once again. Instead of bolstering their US carrier offering, this time SoftBank is purchasing a company you have never heard of: Brightstar.
Based in Miami, FL, Brightstar is the largest distributor of wireless phones in the world, bringing in $7 billion across 50 countries. They are responsible for negotiating the deals between manufacturers carriers, as well as insurance and buy-backs. They have also been working with Verizon Wireless to create Viva Movil, Latino-specific VZW stores in the US.
Following the $1.26 billion acquisition the company will remain in Miami, but the chairmanship will transition to SoftBank, though current President and CEO, Marcelo Claure, will remain in those roles. He will also retain 43% of the company, valuing the company at $2.2 billion, including outstanding debt.
While the acquisition will certainly help Sprint and Softbank's position in negotiating for devices, something Sprint seems to have had trouble with lately, only recently getting the HTC 8X nearly a year after everyone else, it could also hurt the company itself. Some of Brightstar's biggest customers are competitors of Sprint and SoftBank, meaning those competitors might no longer be interested in interacting with a middleman held by a competitor. It could also hurt the Viva Movil project with Verizon.