Sprint Nextel reported today that it has received permission from Softbank to proceed with discussions with Dish Networks regarding Dish’s proposal to acquire Sprint Nextel. Softbank is also in the process of attempting to acquire Sprint Nextel.
Sprint Nextel noted that the waiver “will permit Sprint and its representatives, including the special committee of the Sprint board, to enter into a non-disclosure agreement and discussions with Dish for the purpose of clarifying and obtaining further information from Dish regarding its proposal made on April 15, 2013. The Softbank waiver does not permit Sprint to provide non-public information to Dish nor does it enable Sprint to enter into negotiations with Dish. Such actions may be taken by Sprint only in accordance with the Sprint-Softbank merger agreement.”
Softbank last October put in a $20.1 billion bid to acquire a 70% stake in Sprint Nextel, which was followed by Sprint Nextel putting in a $2.2 billion offer to acquire the 49% stake in Clearwire that it did not already own. Dish in early January looked to upset the Clearwire offer by putting in a higher bid for Clearwire, which was followed earlier this month by a $25.5 billion offer to acquire 68% stake in Sprint Nextel.
Clearwire’s management has stated a preference to move forward with the Sprint Nextel deal, while Sprint Nextel has stated that it was continuing to move forward with the Softbank plans. Dish has become somewhat desperate to make a move into the wireless telecommunications space after it was granted access to 30 megahertz of spectrum in the 2 GHz band in order to operate a cellular network. The cost of attempting to build out its own network appears to be driving Dish into a partnership with an established carrier in order to meet build out requirements for that spectrum at a reasonable cost.
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