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Sprint Ups Ante With DISH, Increases Bid for Clearwire

**Editor’s Note: Please click


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for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Q1 2013 or


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for the biggest M&A during that time in the service provider-BSS/OSS spaces.**

Sprint is increasing its bid for the half of Clearwire it doesn’t already own by 14 percent.

America’s third-largest wireless operator made an initial bid of $2.97 per share last fall, but on Tuesday announced it’s upping that bid to $3.40 per share, valuing the stake at $2.5 billion. That tops the $3.30 per-share counter-offer that DISH Network submitted for all of Clearwire a few months ago. Sprint calls this its “best and final offer.”

The carrier says this new bid “demonstrates Sprints commitment to closing the Clearwire transaction and improving its competitive position in the U.S. wireless industry.”

Sprint, which was already believed to have a leg up in the negotiations before its new offer, says it’s a better suitor for Clearwire due in part to its new Network Vision architecture that “should allow for better strategic alignment and the full utilization and integration of Clearwires complementary 2.5 GHz spectrum assets, while achieving operational efficiencies and improved service for customers as the spectrum and network is migrated to 4G LTE standards.”

The new bid is likely to appease some Clearwire shareholders who have spoken out publicly, saying the company should hold out for a higher price.

Both Sprint and DISH are after valuable spectrum that Clearwire, the Bellevue, Wash.-based broadband provider, controls. While Sprint wants to expand its LTE network and offer more high-speed services, satellite-operator DISH is looking to get into the wireless game.

Meantime, this is still all muddied by a pair of other major transactions involving the companies. Just a few weeks ago, DISH proposed to buy Sprint for $25.5 billion, which already has a $20 billion offer from SoftBank of Japan, which wants to buy 70 percent of the Overland Park, Kan.-based carrier.

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