US-based mobile operator Sprint Nextel has agreed a deal to purchase a total equity stake in MVNO and pre-paid specialist Virgin Mobile USA. The acquisition is reported to be worth USD483 million with shareholders to receive USD5.50 per share for their stakes. Sprint will also retire Virgin’s outstanding debts, which as of 31 March 2009 stood at around USD248 million. ‘The acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA positions Sprint for even greater success in the pre-paid wireless segment,’ said Dan Hesse, president of Sprint Nextel, ‘Pre-paid is growing at an unprecedented rate with consumers keenly focused on value. Virgin Mobile is an iconic brand in the marketplace that will complement our ‘Boost Mobile’ brand.’ In recent years Sprint has seen its wireless customer base steadily decline from a peak of 54 million in June 2007 to 49 million at the end of March 2009. The takeover of Virgin would add approximately 5.25 million customers to its business.