Softbank to buy 100% of PHS operator Willcom

15 Oct 2010

Japan’s Softbank Corp has revealed it has agreed to buy all of Japanese personal handy-phone systems (PHS) provider Willcom, Reuters reports. If ratified – the deal is subject to Tokyo district court approval of Willcom’s rehabilitation plan which includes ownership by Softbank – the new owner will benefit from the addition of roughly 3.9 million Willcom subscribers, boosting its overall base to around 27 million users. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database Willcom filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2010 with debts of JPY206 billion (USD2.3 billion). The PHS operator has for years been losing out to the country’s main cellular providers NTT DoCoMo, KDDI (au), Softbank Mobile and more recently eMobile, all of which offer faster data transmission speeds and services. Although the future looked bleak for the operator, under a new rescue plan unveiled in March this year it was revealed Willcom could be split up, while its backers – Softbank Corp, Advantage Partners LLP and state-backed turnaround agency the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp (ETIC) – looked to provide financial aid to revive the company.

Japan, SoftBank Group Corp