FCC officially approves SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire deal

FCC officially approves SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire deal

Summary: The long wait for a decision is finally over.


Here's a big piece of news slipping in quietly during the holiday weekend. The Federal Communications Commission has finally issued a ruling over the SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire deal.

The long story short is that the Commission has approved the deal. The full ruling was published on Friday afternoon.

To recall, Japanese cellular giant SoftBank bought a 70 percent stake in Sprint for $20.1 billion last October. At the time, it was expected that the deal would close (subject to regulatory approval) by mid-2013.

At the same time, Sprint owns just more than half of Clearwire and wants to acquire the rest of the company for $2.97 per share.

But there have been a few bumps as this deal works on obtaining federal approval.

For one, Clearwire shareholders asked Sprint to bump up the bid back in January.

That was after Dish filed a note with the FCC to pause review of the Sprint-Softbank deal, assuming that Sprint would be forced to drop its bid for the rest of Clearwire's shares -- thus allowing Dish to wedge its way in instead.

Analysts had previously predicted that the federal agency would issue a ruling as soon as May. However, that was obviously wishful thinking as the last few months have come and gone with nary a peep on the matter.

The ruling noted that the original bid has been since modified as recently as early June.

SoftBank bumped up the original offer to $16.64 billion with now 78 percent ownership in Sprint. While the direct investment has been lowered to $5 billion, the overall value of the deal is still higher at $21.6 billion.

Sprint shareholders have also approved the revised bid.

As for the Sprint-Clearwire part of the deal, with Dish Network out of the picture, Clearwire shareholders are scheduled to vote on the final Sprint offer on July 8.

Topics: Government, 4G, Legal, Networking, Unified Comms

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  • Good news for Sprint

    This is probably good news for Sprint. The ill fated quasi-partnership with Clearwire was a terrible deal for Sprint, from what I've read, because they wound up with a large ownership stake in an ill-managed company but they had absolutely no say in management decisions at Clearwire. On more than one occasion Sprint had to, essentially, subsidize Clearwire's operations to keep the company from going under. And, of course, Clearwire represents Sprint's first, failed attempt to get the ball rolling on 4G wireless services through WiMax, rather than the LTE technologies that would eventually prove the industry standard.