While recent rumors suggested Sprint could be interested in snatching up Metro PCS, it may actually be the target of an acquisition.The Nikkei, Reuters and Wall Street Journal report it is in final buyout talks with Japanese carrier Softbank at a price in excess of 1 trillion yen ($12 billion US). Just over a week ago Softbank snapped up rival eAccess in a billion dollar deal that added 50 percent more base stations to its LTE network and will move it from third to second largest in the country when it is completed. It got to third place with a leveraged buyout of Vodafone's Japanese arm back in 2006, and CEO Masayoshi Son mentioned last week that he has his eye on the number one spot. We're not exactly sure how a potential purchase of the third place American carrier fits into its plans (or what this means for Sprint's future, its LTE rollout and its often woeful 3G speeds), but we're betting Softbank's CFO is just trying to keep Son away from any juicy looking eBay "Buy It Now" auctions.

Update: Looks like those reports were on the money: Sprint just released a statement confirming it is in talks with Softbank about a possible transaction. Find that terse press release embedded below.

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11 October 2012
Sprint Confirms Discussions with Softbank on a Possible Transaction

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), October 11, 2012 - Sprint (NYSE: S) today confirmed that it is currently engaged in discussions with Softbank regarding a potential substantial investment by Softbank in Sprint. Although there can be no assurances that these discussions will result in any transaction or on what terms any transaction may occur, such a transaction could involve a change of control of Sprint. Sprint does not intend to comment further unless and until an agreement is reached.

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 56 million customers at the end of the second quarter of 2012 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint No. 1 among all national carriers in customer satisfaction and most improved, across all 47 industries, during the last four years. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 3 in its 2011 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation's greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.