On today's episode of All My Mergers And Acquisitions, the long-running Sprint bidding war between Dish Network and Japanese carrier SoftBank appears to be over, at least for the moment. After SoftBank increased its Sprint bid to 21.6 billion dollars for 78% of the company last week, and Sprint subsequently sued both Dish and Clearwire for getting in the way of its corporate matchmaking, Dish has withdrawn its offer. According to Reuters, the company stated that submitting a new offer by today's deadline was not practical.
Dish is still hungry for wireless spectrum, and intends to buy shares of LTE provider Clearwire for well above market value - at least, it intends to buy the portion of Clearwire that isn't currently controlled by Sprint. That's a tad bit over 49% of its shares, which Sprint was hoping to buy with capitol provided by the SoftBank purchase. Also, one of the conditions of SoftBank's offer is that Sprint maintain its controlling interest in Clearwire. Control of both companies would give Softank the biggest single slice of LTE spectrum in the US. Yeah, it's giving us a headache too.
Here's where we stand: Sprint's board has encouraged its shareholders to accept SoftBank's $21.6 billion/78% bid in a meeting on June 25th. Meanwhile, Clearwire has urged its minority shareholders to reject an outright takeover by Sprint at $3.40 per share, and accept Dish's offer of $4.40 per share, in a meeting on June 24th. Assuming that the motions pass at both companies, that leave Sprint/SoftBank with a controlling interest in Clearwire, while Dish will still retain enormous leverage with the company, and will be considerably closer to owning it... if they can convince Sprint to relinquish control.
Losing the bidding war is a major blow for Dish. CEO Charlie Ergen was quoted last week saying that he'd consider selling the company altogether if it failed to acquire Sprint. He may still have some fight: the official line from Dish is that they're "considering their options" in relation to Sprint. Don't worry, folks - in all likelihood, the M&A drama is far from over here.