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FCC approves SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire transaction

Mon, 07/08/2013 - 1:04pm
Ben Munson, Wireless Week

The FCC has given its blessing to SoftBank’s $21.6 billion merger bid for Sprint and Sprint’s $5 per share buyout bid for Clearwire.

In the order, released last Friday, the Commission concluded that the proposed transaction will likely result in public interest benefits.

“Today is a good day for all Americans who use mobile broadband services,” acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said in a statement. “The increased investment in Sprint’s and Clearwire’s networks is likely to accelerate deployment of mobile broadband services and enhance competition in the mobile marketplace, promoting customer choice, innovation and lower prices.” 

SoftBank and Sprint are announcing the preliminary results of the Sprint shareholder vote in anticipation of a July 10 closing date. Three percent of Sprint shareholders elected to receive shares in Sprint Corporation (New Sprint) while 53 percent elected to receive cash and the 44 percent that didn’t vote expected to receive cash as well. Shareholders opting for cash will get approximately $5.65 and 0.26 shares of New Sprint for each common stock owned.

With the FCC’s approval of SoftBank’s bid came a blow to the Japanese carrier’s credit rating. Bloomberg reported that Standard & Poor’s cut SoftBank’s rating from BBB to BB+, which is the highest non-investment rating. SoftBank’s shares fell 3.4 percent on news of the credit rating cut.

But good news for SoftBank could be coming soon as Clearwire shareholders are scheduled to vote today on Sprint’s bid to buy the remaining half of Clearwire it doesn’t already own. Clearwire’s board has recommended the shareholders vote “for” Sprint’s $5 per share bid.

In a statement, Sprint said it had already received commitments from Clearwire minority shareholders representing 9 percent of Clearwire’s voting shares. Sprint will vote its 45 percent in favor, as will Comcast, Intel and Bright House, which collectively own nearly 13 percent. The vote is scheduled for July 8 at 10:30 a.m. PT.

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