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Sprint drops Nextel from company name as SoftBank takes control

The wireless carrier is now under the control of SoftBank, of Japan.

European Pressphoto Agency

The wireless carrier is now under the control of SoftBank, of Japan.

NEW YORK — Sprint Nextel is dropping Nextel from its name as it completes a deal with SoftBank that gives that Japanese company majority ownership of the third-largest US wireless carrier.

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

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The name change turns the page on an ugly chapter for the 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. Sprint shut down the Nextel system this year.

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

Sprint’s chief executive, Dan Hesse will remain at the helm. Son will serve as chairman, while SoftBank board member Ronald Fisher will be vice chairman.

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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