Dish Makes Clearwire Tender Offer

Latest Bid Beats Sprint Proposal As Shareholder Vote Looms

Dish Network made a not so surprising $4.40 tender offer for WiMax pioneer Clearwire late Wednesday, two days day before Clearwire shareholders were set to vote on an earlier proposal from Sprint.

In a statement, Dish said its offer represents a 29% premium to the $3.40 per share offer Sprint made for the wireless broadband provider earlier this month, sweetening a $3.30 per share bid Dish made in January.

Dish, in a letter to Clearwire’s  board of directors Wednesday, said after reviewing the latest Sprint offer that it believes it can provide a “meaningfully superior alternative” to Clearwire shareholders.

“As you know, we are committed to completing a transaction that will permit Dish to commercialize its significant portfolio of wireless spectrum assets,” Dish said in the letter.  “We have therefore simplified and improved our previous proposal to provide you with revised terms that are both clearly actionable by Clearwire and unmistakably superior to the Sprint proposal.”

Clearwire shareholders were slated to vote on the latest Sprint offer on May 31, but in light of the new Dish offer, that meeting was postponed to June 13.

“The Clearwire spectrum portfolio has always been a key component to implementing our wireless plans of delivering a superior product and service offering to customers,” Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said in a statement.

“The Special Committee of Clearwire’s board of directors has received Dish Network’s offer and will review it to determine the best course of action for the company and its stockholders. The Special Committee has not made any determination to change its recommendation of the current Sprint transaction,” Clearwire said in a statement.

The new Dish offer comes on the same day that Sprint said it had received clearance from CFIUS (the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) concerning its proposed $20 billion merger with Japanese wireless giant SoftBank. Dish, which made a competing $25.5 billion for Sprint, has said a SoftBank merger is not in the national interest.