DISH Ditches Sprint Bid to Focus on Clearwire Acquisition

By Craig Galbraith Comments
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**Editor's Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Q1 2013 or here for the biggest M&A during that time in the service provider-BSS/OSS spaces.**

The DISH-Sprint M&A waters are a little less muddied now than they were a few days ago.

DISH, which earlier this year offered to buy America's third-largest wireless operator for more than $25 billion, said it will focus its efforts on buying Clearwire, the broadband provider – a deal it's more likely to complete. The door might not be completely closed on DISH-Sprint, but the satellite provider made it clear that a future between the two communications giants is unlikely.

"While DISH continues to see strategic value in a merger with Sprint, the decisions made by Sprint to prematurely terminate our due diligence process and accept extreme deal protections in its revised agreement with SoftBank, among other things, have made it impracticable for DISH to submit a revised offer by the June 18th deadline imposed by Sprint," DISH said in a prepared statement. "We will consider our options with respect to Sprint, and focus our efforts and resources on completing the Clearwire tender offer."

It's been a back-and-forth process for Sprint's suitors. SoftBank of Japan made an original offer to buy 70 percent of Sprint last fall. DISH followed up with its own offer, and SoftBank countered. The Overland Park, Kan.-based carrier accepted SoftBank's revised offer and gave DISH a Tuesday deadline to counter it, a deadline the satellite operator says it won't meet.

Of course, this is just one piece of the M&A puzzle being played out by these companies. Sprint said this week that it is suing DISH in the companies' battle to buy Bellevue, Wash.-based Clearwire, which owns valuable spectrum. DISH outbid Sprint by 30 percent last month – $4.40 per share – in an offer that Sprint said violates Delaware state law and the rights of Clearwire's investors.

Sprint, which already owns half of Clearwire, wants the rest to help it build out its LTE network and to offer more high-speed wireless services. DISH, long a household name in television, is trying to get into the wireless game.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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