Oh, what a tangled web gigantic mega-corps weave. Japanese telecom SoftBank wants to get its hands on an American wireless carrier, come Hell or high water, and they've just outbid Dish Network to do so. According to Reuters, Softbank has upped its bid from October of last year to $21.6 billion USD for 78% control of Sprint, topping its previous commitment of $20 billion for 70%. Dish Network is currently offering $25.5 billion in a mix of cash and stock for an outright sale, about 10% less on a share-by-share basis.

Dish has been playing hardball since its initial cash and stock bid in April, claiming that it intends to leverage ownership of Sprint to further expand video and Internet capabilities for both companies. Dish sees the acquisition of Sprint, or at least some major wireless carrier (they've also been trying to buy Clearwire, currently partially owned by Sprint) as essential to its long-term survival. Dish has even created a dedicated website to tell investors what a great idea the purchase is. Chairman of the Board Charlie Ergen claims that he'll consider selling Dish itself if it fails to acquire Sprint.

The raised Softbank bid has earned it the support of John Paulson and some of his fellow Sprint shareholders, without whom it would be very difficult for the deal to progress. Paulson had previously supported the Dish bid, so he's probably playing both companies off of each other to drive up the price. FCC and Committee on Foreign Investment hurdles have already been cleared. At this point, it's just a matter of who's willing to spend the money, and how much.

SoftBank is hedging its bets; rumor has it that if it should fail to purchase Sprint, the company has already made moves to acquire the US branch of T-Mobile from parent company Deutsche Telekom. In case $21.6 billion wasn't enough to convince you that they want into the US market.

Source: Reuters

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Geoff Johnson

    I'd like to see some comparisons between the pros and cons to each buyout, I've seen the bids going back and forth but really have no idea who we as consumers should like to see succeed.

    • cabbiebot

      From where I'm sitting, it'd be better for Softbank to get Sprint (and thus Clearwire) to help Sprint roll out tri-band LTE phones on 2500mhz (which Clearwire has a ton of), 1900mhz (what is currently rolled out) and 800mhz (to be rolled out next year) bands. Right now on the 1900mhz band here in Houston it's already congested as hell and there's been a frustrating drop in speed.

      • squiddy20

        From what I understand, the 800 mHz is coming from the refarmed iDen network, which Sprint owns already, so that shouldn't really factor into any of this acquisition business.

        • cabbiebot


    • dave

      Some time back, there were persistent rumors that Dish and Google were collaborating to acquire spectrum, with the insinuation that Google would finally be offering cellphone service that is fair to consumers, like Google Fiber. The rumors disappeared, and I haven't seen them in this bid war, but that idea is so important to me that until it's outright disavowed I have to cheer for Dish.

      • Geoff Johnson

        I heard that as well, I'd love for Google to roll out a network. Free service just as long as you're aware they will collect anonymous information on you like they already do with any other Google app.

    • aiden9

      My worry when it comes to Dish is if they'd have enough money to actually do anything with Sprint after an acquisition. They don't have a lot of equity to work with and their main income has been shaky. Softbank on the other hand has a lot of equity to work with and their net income(money left over after tax and costs) has been about x4 of Dish's annual revenue(money before tax and costs).

      Sprint is in really good shape when it comes to spectrum. What they need is that investment push to get their LTE network rolling.

  • Matthew Fry

    Poor Sprint. $21,600,000,000 or $25,500,000,000. Sucks to be them.