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Dish lays off Sprint-Softbank deal

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 2:16pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

Dish Network told the FCC that it would not file to block Softbank's proposed $20 billion acquisition of Sprint Nextel.

In a Jan. 16 filing, Dish had asked that the shot clock in the Sprint-Softbank proceeding be paused until Sprint's bid for Clearwire had been settled. At that time, it also said it was considering a move to block the acquisition altogether.

The drama is intensified by the fact that Dish has since made a bid for Clearwire. Dish offered to buy all of Clearwire’s common stock at $3.30 per share in a proposed deal that would allow Dish to purchase some spectrum assets from Clearwire. Under the conditions of the preliminary offer, Dish would acquire approximately 11.4 billion MHz-POPs from Clearwire, or 24 percent of its total spectrum holdings, for $2.2 billion.

That deal is complicated by a number of conditions, not the least of which is Sprint's existing controlling share in Clearwire. Dish is also proposing a commercial agreement, where Clearwire would agree to assist with the construction, operation, maintenance and management of a wireless network covering Dish's AWS-4 holdings and new deployments of 2.5 GHz spectrum.

Dish's announcement that it will not move to block Softbank's acquisition of Sprint comes only a day after the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the FCC to halt its consideration of the deal. The DOJ said it was examining the merger for possible risks to national security.

Shares of Clearwire were 1.2 percent to $3.30 in early morning trading.

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