The wireless broadband company is down 2.2% in after hours trading following Dish Network‘s announcement that it has taken its $4.40 a share offer off the table. Dish says that it made its decision after Clearwire’s board recommended that investors accept a $5 offer from Sprint, which already owns about half of Clearwire‘s stock. Sprint’s offer valued Clearwire at more than $14B. The developments pose a dilemma for Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen as he tries to create a national wireless broadband service. He has been amassing airwave spectrum rights but has said that he needs additional licenses. He had hoped to secure that by acquiring a large minority stake in Clearwire – and by acquiring Sprint. But Japan’s SoftBank is poised to win the mobile phone provider after it outbid Dish.
The tug of war over wireless broadband provider Clearwire just became more interesting, and precarious for Dish Network. Sprint has raised its offer for the 50% of Clearwire it doesn’t already own to $5 a share — valuing the wireless broadband company at more than $14B — which tops Dish Network’s $4.40 a share bid. That led Clearwire’s board today to switch sides: It now recommends that shareholders support Sprint instead of Dish. They’ll have a chance to vote on July 8 following the company’s decision to postpone a June 24 special meeting. “The amended agreement with Sprint clearly acknowledges the significant value present in Clearwire – from our deep portfolio of wireless spectrum to the tremendous amount of progress the Clearwire team has made in improving our operations and beginning the construction of our next-generation 4G LTE network,” CEO Erik Prusch says. In addition, shareholders owning about 9% of Clearwire have said that they’ll support Sprint. Between these investors — and others including Comcast and Intel who’ve supported the wireless phone company — Sprint believes that a majority of independent shareholders will support it over Dish. If they don’t, then Clearwire must pay Sprint a $115M break-up fee.
In a move that could potentially thwart SoftBank’s proposed $20B acquisition of 70% of Sprint Nextel, Dish Network has made an unsolicited $25.5B offer for the U.S. number three mobile services provider. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said today that his company’s cash and stock bid is “a superior alternative to the pending SoftBank proposal.” Ergen, who has been amassing spectrum rights to launch his own wireless broadband network, also addressed the Clearwire situation. In October 2012, Sprint had begun negotiating to gain control of the portion of Clearwire it does not alredy own, in a deal that was seen as crucial to Softbank’s planned acquisition of Sprint. In January, Dish made an unsolicited bid for the wireless communications company. In a statement today, Ergen said, “Though not a condition of our proposal, we anticipate that the pending transaction with Clearwire would be completed.” Sprint shares were up in pre-market trading. The full Dish announcement is below:
DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH) today announced that it has submitted a merger proposal to the Board of Directors of Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE: S) for a total cash and stock consideration of $25.5 billion. The DISH proposal clearly represents superior value to Sprint shareholders, including greater ownership in a combined company that is better positioned for the future with more spectrum, products, subscribers, financial scale and new opportunities.
Dish‘s unsolicited and non-binding offer values Clearwire at $3.30 a share totaling $5.15 billion for all of Clearwire. The per-share price tops a previous bid by Clearwire’s majority shareholder Sprint Nextel by around 11%, according …
Sprint Nextel is negotiating to gain control of Clearwire via agreements with its wireless broadband partner’s other investors, the Wall Street Journal reports. The talks would allow Sprint to gain control of Clearwire’s board without acquiring it. Gaining control …
UPDATE, 4:58 PM SUNDAY: CNBC is reporting that Softbank will pay $20 billion for a 70% stake in Sprint, citing sources close to the deal. Although details are still being worked out, the deal is expected to be announced tomorrow morning after the boards of both companies ratify the agreement this evening. Terms of the deal call for Softbank to buy $8 billion worth of shares directly from Sprint at a price of $5.25 each plus tender for another $12 billion worth of shares from existing holders at a price of $7.30 per share. Sprint’s current price is $5.73. While a related Sprint purchase of Clearwire is not likely to be announced tomorrow, sources say the company is working on it and needs to insure Clearwire is under its control prior to closing the Softbank deal.
PREVIOUSLY, THURSDAY PM: Backfield’s in motion among the wireless and wireless broadband companies that have become so important to the infotainment industry.