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Sprint drops Nextel in name after buyout

Sprint Nextel is dropping the Nextel part of its name as it completes a deal with Tokyo-based SoftBank that gives the Japanese company majority ownership of the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier.

The company will retain its ticker symbol “S” on the New York Stock Exchange and go by the simplified name Sprint Corp., according to a statement Wednesday. SoftBank is spending $21.6 billion, including a cash infusion of $5 billion, to acquire control of the carrier.

The name change turns the page on an ugly chapter for the U.S. company, which spent $36 billion on Nextel Communications only to write off most of the purchase price after struggling to integrate the two companies’ networks.

For billionaire SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, whose company has stakes in Ustream Inc. and Gilt Groupe Inc. in the U.S., the acquisition will help fulfill his ambition of making the company the world’s biggest mobile phone operator.

“This spurs expectations for further growth, even though there’s some risk,” said Tomoaki Kawasaki, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Holdings Inc. in Tokyo. “Son also wants to earn from content on the Internet in the U.S.”

Sprint shut down the Nextel system this year. SoftBank, the third-largest Japanese carrier, won a bidding war for Sprint when it raised its takeover bid and Dish Network Corp. abandoned a competing proposal.

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