Is Clearwire Ready to Give It All to Sprint?
The drama over whether Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S) will ever acquire Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) may be coming to an end very soon, as its revised offer has been viewed favorably by shareholder committees.
The acquisition of Clearwire could be big for Sprint, as it would give it a load of new radio frequencies that it could use to set up a more extensive and robust mobile network. The number of unused frequencies is always growing smaller, and the opportunity to snatch up a bundle is significant.
Sprint had a previous offer to purchase the 50 percent stake in Clearwire that it didn’t already own. That offer was for $2.97 per share, but that didn’t quite cut it for Clearwire, so Sprint had to increase its offer to $3.40 per share. Sprint said the offer “represents Sprint’s best and final offer,” and it might just be the one that gets the deal pushed through.
Clearwire’s board of directors had a special committee meeting in which they all agreed that shareholders with the right to vote on the deal should vote “FOR” to get the deal approved. The board of directors suggested that Sprint’s offer was the best on the table and that it was fair and in the stockholders’ best interest. The group will reconvene on Friday, May 31, at which time a vote might be completed.
If the acquisition goes through, which seems considerably likely, it could up the ante for SoftBank and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), both of which have their eyes set on acquiring Sprint.
SoftBank was the first of the two to show a significant interest in purchasing Sprint, and with the combination of its own frequencies, Sprint’s frequencies, and the new ones from Clearwire, it could set up a powerful network to challenge Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T). Dish thought SoftBank was undervaluing Sprint, and it also saw an opportunity to spread its television network and also delve into the mobile carrier business.
Dish made a counter-offer to try beating SoftBank, but the company didn’t budge on its offer. SoftBank Holdings Director Ron Fisher said, “We continue to believe that our agreed transaction… creates substantially greater value and provides far greater certainty for Sprint shareholders.” SoftBank President and Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son said he wouldn’t increase the bid for Sprint, suggesting that Dish wasn’t equipped to run a wireless carrier and would push Sprint into debt.
If the deal with Clearwire goes through, it may be that both Dish and SoftBank have revised their offers, because Sprint could quickly become more valuable with a bundle of extra frequencies to improve its network.
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