National Security?

Softbank’s latest Sprint Nextel offer includes a seat on the board for Uncle Sam

May 23, 2013
May 23, 2013

Japan’s Softbank is taking an extraordinary step to make sure its bid for Sprint Nextel goes through: effectively giving the US government a seat on the board to assuage its fears that Chinese equipment suppliers like Huawei might compromise the nation’s telecom infrastructure.

US lawmakers have expressed concerns that using Chinese equipment could pose a threat to national security—and those fears have been shamelessly hyped even further by Dish TV, which has made a counter-offer for Sprint. Softbank, which had already agreed not to use Huawei equipment, has now agreed to give the US government what the Wall Street Journal called an “unusual level of influence” by letting it approve a board member who will be responsible for national security issues.

SoftBank called the Dish campaign (paywall) “undignified xenophobic rhetoric”—but it made an unprecedented concession, nevertheless.

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