The world of mega-mergers and acquisitions are rarely the subject of The Big Deal analysis but Softbank, Japan’s third-largest mobile-phone company’s, plans to make a “substantial” investment in US-based peer Sprint carries a corporate venturing twist.

Part of the potential deal reported by news agencies involves Softbank helping Sprint buy full control of Clearwire, a wholesale US wireless carrier that’s already 48% owned by Sprint.

Clearwire is a totemic deal for corporate venturing as it represents the largest investment by chip company Intel’s corporate venturing unit.

Intel Capital has invested in more than 1,000 companies and delivered excellent returns but its backing of Clearwire’s $600m round in 2006 has left it nursing a financial loss, according to the corporate venturing unit’s president Arvind Sodhani earlier this month.

In its regulatory filing in August, Intel’s remaining holdings of Clearwire were worth $31.8m down from $107.5m the year before after selling shares.

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