Japan's mobile communication giant Softbank president Masayoshi Son announces the company's financial result ended in March in Tokyo on May 7, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO)
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With Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. filing to go public, the biggest winner won't be founder Jack Ma or his fellow executives or even venture capital backers like Silver Lake Management LLC.Fourteen years ago, Son's SoftBank Corp. (9984) started with a $20 million bet on a then-unknown Web portal connecting Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers. After taking control of the U.S. carrier Sprint Corp. last July, Son made no secret of his interest in T-Mobile U.S. Inc.Son's biggest bet so far was last year's $22 billion deal for control of Sprint, which gave SoftBank access to about 50 million U.S. subscribers.After the Sprint deal, Son last December sought about $20 billion in bank loans to buy Deutsche Telekom AG's 67 percent stake in T-Mobile, the smallest of the four national carriers, people familiar with the matter said at the time.Combining Sprint and T-Mobile would create a bigger No. 3 in the U.S. market. Son is set to play a major role in Alibaba after its IPO, with SoftBank guaranteed a board seat, backing the e-commerce company's partnership and pledging to keep its stake above 30 percent.SoftBank had interest bearing debt of about $90 billion as of March 31, the company said Wednesday.
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