Softbank tries anew to gain upper hand against Dish Network in bidding war for Sprint

Will this do it?
Will this do it?
Image: The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images
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Japan’s Softbank raised its offer to acquire Sprint on Monday in an effort to thwart a rival proposal from Dish Network. Sprint also said it ended talks with Dish because the satellite firm’s offer would not lead to a superior proposal.

Softbank’s latest move puts the ball once again in Dish’s court, in what was already a fiendishly complicated game. See if you can follow the tangled plot twists. Softbank announced last October that it had agreed to acquire Sprint. A few months later, Dish officially announced its offer for US wireless company Clearwire, in which Sprint owns a majority stake and is trying to fully acquire. Dish then announced in April it was offering to acquire Sprint, and launched a campaign saying a Softbank acquisition of Sprint would hurt US national security interests.

After the Softbank-Sprint deal was cleared by a US government committee reviewing national security issues, Dish announced it was raising its offer for Clearwire. But it also hadn’t dropped its Sprint bid, even though Dish can’t afford both deals. That brings us to today’s late move by Softbank to raise its Sprint offer to $21.6 billion. Got all of that?

At the heart of this convoluted dance is the compelling need for telecommunications companies to expand or establish mobile phone capabilities in the US by acquiring wireless spectrum.

Sprint shareholders were scheduled to vote in two days on the Softbank deal. That meeting has now been postponed until June 25 to give Sprint investors time to asses the new offer. Crucially, the Sprint-Clearwire deal is contingent upon the Softbank-Sprint transaction going through.

Clearwire shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Sprint deal on June 13. With a few days still left, there is plenty of time for Dish and the other players to add a few more twists.