FCC officially approves SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire deal

The long wait for a decision is finally over.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

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.

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