Dish Network makes bid for Clearwire, trumps Sprint's offer

Sprint's bid to acquire Clearwire was trumped by Dish Network by more than $800 million, but much of the deal rests on whether or not Sprint will give up its stake in Clearwire.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Just when you think the Sprint-Clearwire deal might just go ahead without a hitch, a rival firm has thrown its weight into the ring to make Sprint's bid look like mere loose change. 

Dish Network has made an unsolicited offered to buy Clearwire for $3.30 a share, or $5.15 billion, trumping the bid that Sprint made late last year for the cellular firm by more than 10 percent. 

Sprint offered $2.90 a share at first but it rose to $2.97 a share, or $4.34 billion, after Japanese firm Softbank, who owns 70 percent of Sprint, capped the bid.

Sprint and Dish are both competing for Clearwire in order to gain access to more spectrum. Dish got an initial leg-up in the spectrum space in 2011 by buying out DBSD North America from bankruptcy, while Sprint wants to develop its next-generation 4G LTE network in a bid to support a range of popular devices, such as 4G compatible Android devices and the iPhone 5. 

However, the Dish bid may not complete. Clearwire said in a press release that it will hold discussions with Dish but noted that its ability to enter into a strategic transaction is "severely limited by its current contractual arrangements." 

As per its agreement with Sprint, Clearwire informed Sprint of Dish's bid. Sprint said in a statement released earlier today that it believes its offer "is superior to the highly conditional DISH proposal."

Sprint also said that the Dish bid is "not viable," and would "require Sprint to voluntarily waive rights that it holds as a stockholder of Clearwire and that it possesses through various vendor and customer contracts that significantly predate Sprint’s proposed acquisition of the remainder of Clearwire."

And, as you might expect, considering Sprint wants to buy Clearwire, Sprint will not relinquish its more than 50 percent stake in Clearwire for love nor money.

Clearwire shares were halted momentarily towards the end of the trading day, and shot up by more than 10 percent after hours on the news. Sprint dropped by more than 2 percent in after hours trading, while Dish Network dropped 1 percent before trading ended for the day.

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