Dish outbids Sprint in race for Clearwire

09 January 2013 | Kavit Majithia


Dish Networks has shaken up the US wireless market after outbidding Sprint in the latest twist to take full control of wireless operator Clearwire.

US satellite television provider Dish made the offer late yesterday to acquire spectrum assets and the company’s remaining common stock.

It offered $2.2 billion for the spectrum, and $3.30 for Clearwire’s stock, at an 11% premium to Sprint’s offer announced at the end of last year.

Sprint had an offer accepted to acquire the remaining 50% of the company it does not already own, at $2.97 per share, but murmurings from Clearwire suggested shareholders believed the offer to be too low.

Despite the higher bid, Sprint has held a long standing partnership with Clearwire and moved to consolidate its interests in the spectrum rich operator after Softbank acquired a 70% stake in the US operator in 2012.

After Dish’s bid came to light, Sprint declared it would not waive its rights as Clearwire’s largest shareholder.

According the industry experts, Sprint’s desire to take full ownership of Clearwire is another step in the company’s bid to compete with Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

Clearwire has said the Dish bid is “subject to numerous, material uncertainties and conditions, including the negotiation of multiple contractual arrangements being requested by Dish”.

The Financial Times states the offering will be passed to Clearwire’s special committee for consideration, and Tom Cullen, EVP of corporate development at Dish, said: “We look forward to working with Clearwire’s special committee as it evaluates our proposal.”

Sprint has reportedly responded by stating that its bid “offers Clearwire shareholders certain and attractive value”. The company further said that its offering was “superior to the highly conditional Dish proposal. Sprint does not intent to waive any of its rights and looks forward to closing the transaction with Clearwire”.