Japan-based Softbank has confirmed it was approached by Pacific Century CyberWorks to help launch a converged broadband television and Internet service in Japan. However, CyberWorks dismissed as rumours a Business Post report yesterday that the two Internet powerhouses were in alliance talks. A spokesman for Softbank Finance, a Softbank subsidiary, said the company had been approached by CyberWorks on the subject of introducing its Network of the World (NOW) service into Japan. 'We had received such a request, but we cannot comment any further,' Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying. CyberWorks spokesman Joan Wagner said: 'Although Japan is a very important market for [CyberWorks], there is no truth to this rumour.' But a source close to CyberWorks said the company was looking to ally with Softbank to secure distribution for its NOW content. One of the avenues being explored was distribution of NOW's content through Softbank's 51 per cent-owned subsidiary Yahoo! Japan, which was the country's most popular Internet portal, the source said. CyberWorks had also wanted Softbank to provide it with Japanese-language content for its NOW service and to form a joint venture to upgrade local cable television infrastructure to broadband capability. Sources said there was no guarantee the two Internet investors would be able to reach an agreement any time soon. Softbank had apparently displayed some reluctance to accepting CyberWorks' proposals, according to one source. Analysts and fund managers said it would make sense for CyberWorks to secure a local partner for Japan, given that it would be difficult for the Hong Kong-based firm to break into the market by itself. Some said Softbank, being the biggest Internet investor in Japan - with interests in Yahoo!, leading content providers and Internet infrastructure - would be an ideal ally. Although Softbank and CyberWorks would still be competitors, this did not preclude an alliance, analysts said. Yahoo! Japan in particular would be a useful partner, according to a Japan portfolio manager at a major European bank. 'If you tie-up with Yahoo! Japan you're set,' a fund manager said. 'Everyone in Japan wants to do business with them.' Some analysts said it could be difficult for the companies to reach agreements, given Yahoo! Japan and NOW would be competing directly for customers. Bertrand Chui, an analyst at Worldsec International, doubted whether co-operation between Yahoo! Japan and NOW would be feasible.