Dish Says More Information Needed in Softbank-Sprint BidTodd Shields
Dish Network Corp. said U.S. regulators should get more information on Softbank Corp.’s $20 billion purchase of Sprint Nextel Corp., which is vying with Dish for control of Clearwire Corp.
The Federal Communications Commission needs to know more about the consequences of placing U.S. airwaves under foreign control, such as Tokyo-based Softbank, Dish said in a filing yesterday with the agency. The FCC should listen to shareholders who want to block Sprint’s bid for Clearwire, Dish said in the filing.
“The applications are deficient and should be supplemented,” Dish said. “The transaction puts more U.S. spectrum than anyone else holds not only in the hands of one company, but in the hands of a foreign company.”
Satellite-television provider Dish, expanding into mobile-phone service, also has bid for Clearwire, a wireless-network operator with valuable spectrum. Clearwire on Feb. 1 said it remained in discussions with both companies.
Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has said he wants more spectrum -- the airwaves that let mobile devices operate -- to compete with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.
Sprint already owns just over 50 percent of Bellevue, Washington-based Clearwire and has agreed to buy the rest for $2.97 a share. Dish, based in Englewood, Colorado, has offered $3.30 a share.
Clearwire rose 6 cents to $3.20 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading at 4 p.m. New York time.
Clearwire shareholder Crest Financial Ltd. in a filing yesterday to the FCC said the agency should block the proposed merger. The deal undervalues Clearwire shares and would harm the public because the combined company could leave airwaves under-used, Crest said in a filing.
Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kansas, on Jan. 8 said it wouldn’t relinquish its rights as a Clearwire shareholder to allow Dish’s bid to be completed. Sprint’s offer is superior to Dish’s, the company said in a statement.
Sprint agreed to acquire 100 percent of Clearwire in December, two months after its separate deal with Softbank promised to provide a cash infusion.
Before the takeover offer, Sprint and Clearwire had run a joint venture with the goal of building a nationwide wireless network. The effort struggled to gain traction over the past four years, leading to billions of dollars in losses for Clearwire.
Sprint wants to take over Clearwire’s spectrum and use it to enhance its own network.
The FCC is scrutinizing Softbank’s proposed purchase of Sprint for its effect on the U.S. telecommunications market. U.S. regulators may welcome the deal as a way to bolster Sprint’s competitiveness in a mobile market dominated by AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, Jeffrey Silva, a Washington-based analyst with Medley Global Advisors, said in an interview.