* Q2 profit at 342 bln yen vs 246 bln year ago
* Sprint reported narrower quarterly losses
* CEO Son says “confident” of Sprint turnaround (Adds details on Sprint job cuts, details)
TOKYO, Nov 4 (Reuters) - SoftBank Group’s second-quarter operating profit rose 39 percent on cost cuts and some improvement at its struggling U.S. unit Sprint Corp.
SoftBank, which purchased a majority stake in U.S. wireless carrier Sprint for more than $20 billion in 2013, said on Wednesday its July-September operating profit climbed to 342 billion yen ($2.8 billion) from 246 billion a year earlier.
That beat an average estimate of 329 billion yen from four analysts, according to Thomson Reuters, and the company said the main reasons for the strong results included higher profits from segments such as Sprint. Sprint, 83 percent owned by SoftBank, reported on Tuesday a narrower quarterly loss.
SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said he was confident in Sprint’s turnaround with more restructuring such as job cuts to be implemented in the months ahead.
“I‘m increasingly confident about the outlook of Sprint as we have found ways to reduce fixed costs, improve network and diversify fund procurement methods,” he told reporters.
“Sprint, with larger revenue, would become the group’s cash cow if we rein in fixed costs.”
Sprint said on Sunday that it aims to slash fiscal 2016 expenses by as much as $2.5 billion, although it did not specify how many jobs it would cut. Son said he expected layoffs to be in the thousands.
SoftBank has tapped into profits generated from the lucrative Japanese mobile phone market to provide Sprint with cash needed to upgrade its lagging network and stem customer losses.
But the company is now facing intensifying competition at home, and signups for new smartphones has slowed. ($1 = 121.1000 yen) (Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)