Sprint Lawsuit: 'Coercive' DISH Tried to 'Fool' Clearwire Investors

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.**

If you can't join 'em, sue 'em.

The back-and-forth bidding war between Sprint and DISH grounded to a halt Monday when America's third-largest wireless operator sued the satellite company to prevent its purchase of Clearwire, the broadband provider.

Sprint filed a complaint in a Delaware court, saying DISH's offer violates that state's law. In addition, it violates the rights of both Sprint's and Clearwire's investors, the carrier said in a news release. Furthermore, Sprint claims DISH "repeatedly attempted to fool Clearwire's shareholders into believing its proposal was actionable in an effort to acquire Clearwire’s spectrum and to obstruct Sprint’s transaction with Clearwire."

Sprint, which made the initial bid last fall, already owns half of Clearwire and wants to buy the rest, for $3.40 per share. But after some back-and-forth, DISH recently offered up a surprise $4.40 per share – for the entire company – 30 percent higher than Sprint's bid. The lawsuit comes just as shareholders are getting ready to vote on the proposal.

DISH followed up today with a statement of its own, calling Sprint's lawsuit "a transparent attempt to divert attention from its failure to deal fairly with Clearwire’s shareholders, as well as to exploit its majority position to block Clearwire’s shareholders from receiving a fair price for their shares."

Sprint wants the rest of Clearwire's valuable spectrum so it can further build out its 4G LTE network and offer more high-speed wireless services. DISH wants in on the wireless game.

This, of course, is just one petal on the M&A flower that's growing in complexity seemingly every week. SoftBank of Japan is attempting to buy 70 percent of Sprint, while DISH made a counteroffer ($25.5 billion) for all of Sprint – a bid that SoftBank has since countered again.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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