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Masayoshi Son appears to be going this year as Hamlet, turning in his second performance in three years of heatedly pursuing a merger between his Sprint and Deutsche Telecom’s T-Mobile only to abandon the effort.
When talks broke off in 2014 the two sides assumed antitrust regulators wouldn’t allow a tie-up. This time around, per a report by Japan’s Nikkei, Son’s SoftBank became concerned it would lose control should T-Mobile (TMUS) take over Sprint.
Shares in T-Mobile and Sprint (S) tumbled Monday as investors betting on industry consolidation—and higher cell-phone prices—bid down the two U.S. laggards. Aaron has speculated that Son could be putting on a “to be, or not to be, that is the way to get a better price” act. Others think he wants to invest ever more in Sprint, the better to realize his dream of connecting devices, humans, and other machines in a single artificial intelligence.
The opposite is feeling more likely—that Son has made a rare blunder by buying a slow-growth mobile carrier in a highly saturated market and is finding it tough to operate or financially engineer his way out of the problem.
Have a good day and don’t eat too much candy.