Sprint Calls DISH Offer for Clearwire 'Illusory'

By Craig Galbraith Comments
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**Editor's Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Q4 2012 or here for the biggest M&A during that time in the service provider-BSS/OSS spaces.**

In an update released Friday morning, broadband provider Clearwire said it's still talking with DISH Network about its bid to buy the company – but made it clear that Sprint still has a leg up to buy the half of Clearwire that it doesn't already own.

Clearwire is a big acquisition target because of all of the spectrum it owns. DISH wants to start offering its customer wireless service, while Sprint wants to better compete with rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless. More spectrum would help the third-largest wireless operator expand its 4G LTE network and services.

After Sprint offered Clearwire $2.97 per share for the half it doesn't own, DISH came in with a nonbinding counterbid of $3.30 per share for a total buyout. But at least one industry insider supports the thinking that Sprint will eventually win out.

"If they were really interested in acquiring the company, it would have been in Dish's interest to present a more definitive offer by the time Clearwire filed its proxy," Guggenhem Parnters analyst Shing Yin told Reuters. "If I were a shareholder, I would still feel somewhat uncertain about Dish's true intentions."

Sprint released a statement saying the DISH proposal is "illusory" and has too many complicated conditions. Sprint itself it in the process of being acquired. If the deal is approved by regulators, Japan's SoftBank will buy 70 percent of Sprint for more than $20 billion. Sprint plans to use some of that new cash flow to get the Clearwire deal done.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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