MoFo and Skadden answer calls for $20bn acquisition of US phone group

US firms Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) and Skadden Arps Meagher & Flom took the lead roles on a deal that sees Japanese telecoms group SoftBank enter the US market by acquiring a 70 per cent stake in American mobile carrier Sprint Nextel.

The deal is valued at $20.1bn (£13.1bn) and will mark one of the largest ever cross-border deals out of Japan. As part of the agreement, SoftBank said it will pay $12.1bn (£7.5bn) to Sprint shareholders and use a further $8bn (£5bn) of new capital to strengthen Sprint’s balance sheet.

MoFo acted as lead counsel to SoftBank with a 16-strong team from the firm’s Tokyo and US offices. The deal was led by the firm’s Tokyo managing partner Ken Siegel, a corporate specialist, and San Francisco-based global M&A co-chair Robert Townsend.

Tokyo firm Mori Hamada & Matsumoto advised SoftBank on Japanese law, while Washington DC-based Dow Lohnes acted as regulatory counsel.

Skadden was lead counsel to Sprint, led by New York-based M&A partner Thomas Kennedy and Washington DC-based M&A partner Jeremy London. Other partners on the deal include New York-based corporate and finance partner Yossi Vebman, New York-based banking partner Stephanie Teicher and Washington DC-based antitrust partner Steven Sunshine.

It is understood that Washington DC-based firm Lawler Metzger Keeney & Logan acted as regulatory counsel to Sprint.

Together, Softbank and Sprint are estimated to have around 96 million users. Japanese businesses have spent $66bn in 559 overseas acquisitions so far this year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Background to this deal:

The same team from MoFo and Mori Hamada & Matsumoto led for SoftBank in its $2.3bn acquisition of eAccess less than a month ago, a deal that came on the heels of SoftBank’s three-way transaction involving Yahoo! and Alibaba earlier this year. The deal, which was again led by MoFo’s Siegel, saw Alibaba repurchase half of Yahoo’s shares in the company for $7.6bn. The parties re-stated their shareholders agreements and Softbank became Alibaba’s largest shareholder. The transaction was one of the largest technology transactions of 2012 and marked one of the largest ever investments between a Japanese and a Chinese company.

Skadden has represented Sprint in a number of transactions, including on its opposition to AT&T’s attempted acquisition of T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom in 2011.

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