Dish makes $25.5bn play for Sprint Nextel

Can Dish win over Sprint shareholders and put its satellite spectrum to use?

US satellite TV network company Dish Network has made a $25.5 bn bid for Sprint Nextel, which it hopes will pip an offer already on the table from Japanese mobile firm SoftBank.

Dish on Monday informally offered Sprint shareholders $4.76 in cash and around $2.24 in stock, which represents about a 32 percent stake in the merged company. Sprint shareholders would receive $7 per share.

Dish said its offer was a 13 percent premium on the existing $20.1bn proposal by Softbank  last October

"The Dish proposal clearly presents Sprint shareholders with a superior alternative to the pending SoftBank proposal," Charlie Ergen, chairman of Dish Network, said in a statement.

"Sprint shareholders will benefit from a higher price with more cash while also creating the opportunity to participate more meaningfully in a combined Dish/Sprint with a significantly-enhanced strategic position and substantial synergies that are not attainable through the pending SoftBank proposal."

The merger would accelerate Dish's plans to put the valuable spectrum it holds to work, which it was permitted to use for mobile broadband services by the FCC last year.

Together, said Dish, the companies could offer nationwide video, voice and broadband services for consumers inside and out of the home.

Dish recently applied for the trademark "Racecar" to launch a wireless broadband service using that spectrum but has been looking for a network partner to launch the service.  Dish also made a bid  for Clearwire earlier this year , a company that was also sought after by Sprint.