Dish Complicates Sprint-Softbank Deal with $25.5B Bid
Apr 15, 2013, 7:12 AM by Eric M. Zeman
Dish Networks today offered to purchase Sprint for $25.5 billion in cash and stock in a bid that competes with Japan's Softbank. Softbank is hoping to acquire a 70% equity stake in Sprint for about $20 billion. The deal has been under review since last year. Dish Networks' offer comes in at a 13% premium over Softbank's original terms. The deal would give control of Sprint to Dish, though there are no details yet about how the company would be structured. "Sprint is in play," said Dish Chairman Charles Ergen said in an interview in with The Wall Street Journal. "We think we've made an offer that's much more compelling than the Softbank transaction." In addition to being the CEO, Ergen is also the largest shareholder of Dish Networks. Earlier this year, Dish attempted to buy Clearwire after Sprint had already made an offer to buy the remaining shares of the struggling WiMax company. However, Sprint's take-over of Clearwire, itself a sticking point for closing the Softbank deal, is in jeopardy thanks to unsatisfied Clearwire investors. Dish has long sought to become a player in the wireless business, and it sees Sprint as the right opportunity. According to The Journal, Sprint brought in $35.3 billion in revenue in 2012, while Dish brought in only $14.3 billion. A combined entity would carry more than $36 billion in debt, which does not include a $9 billion loan Dish would take in order to purchase Sprint. Neither Sprint nor Softbank offered comment on the unsolicited bid from Dish. Sprint's executives and board of directors now have a legal obligation to pick the deal that's best for Sprint's shareholders.
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