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We heard a rumor over the weekend that Softbank was interested in acquiring a majority stake in Sprint and, Monday morning, that rumor became a truth. Softbank said that it is in a series of “definitive agreements” under which it plans to invest $20.1 billion in Sprint, including $12.1 billion that will be paid to Sprint’s existing shareholders and an $8 billion investment in new capital.

“This is a transformative transaction for Sprint that creates immediate value for our stockholders, while providing an opportunity to participate in the future growth of a stronger, better capitalized Sprint going forward,” Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said. “Our management team is excited to work with Softbank to learn from their successful deployment of LTE in Japan as we build our advanced LTE network, improve the customer experience and continue the turnaround of our operations.”

Softbank said its own board of directors, and Sprint’s, have approved the proposed transaction. The deal, which will give Softbank a 70% ownership stake in Sprint, still requires approval from the Federal Communications Commission, approval from Sprint’s shareholders and other regulatory approvals. Sprint and Softbank expect the deal to close by the middle of next year.

[via Softbank (PDF)]