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Dish's interest in Clearwire is making it hard for Sprint to close the deal

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clear logo (good ratio)
clear logo (good ratio)

Clearwire announced on Friday that it will not be taking a financing offer from Sprint (worth up to $800 million) because it is still seriously considering Dish's surprise bid from earlier this month, which was far more money than Sprint put on the table. If Clearwire were to take Sprint's financing offer, Dish has said that it would retract its bid for the company, which at $5.15 billion is far more than the $2.2 billion that Sprint and its parent company Softbank have offered to buy out the remaining shares of Clearwire.

For all intents and purposes, it would make sense for Clearwire to just accept Sprint's offer and move on; as it is, Sprint already owns a significant chunk of the company and has been a partner with Clearwire for a number of years. Sprint used Clearwire's spectrum to power its now defunct WiMAX network and plans to use it to augment its growing LTE network. But for obvious reasons, Clearwire is not ignoring Dish's offer, and it seem that Dish isn't messing around in its play to gain a foothold in the wireless market. Dish has been interested in a wireless network to compete with the likes of AT&T and Verizon for some time, and it already has a wealth of satellite spectrum that it plans to repurpose for an LTE network. Rumors have also been circulating that Google has been involved in talks with Dish to launch a wireless network that would aim to disrupt the status quo.

Clearwire is still playing the field and isn't letting Dish's offer disappear

Clearwire isn't completely blinded by Dish's cash, however, as it is still recommending Sprint's deal to its shareholders. "The Dish Proposal is only a preliminary indication of interest and is subject to numerous, material uncertainties and conditions[... ] as well as regulatory approvals," said the company in its press release today. For its part, Sprint sees this as a positive, noting in a statement released today that "Clearwire’s proxy makes very clear that Sprint’s definitive agreement to acquire Clearwire provides both the best value for shareholders and stability amid an uncertain future."

But until the deal between Clearwire and Sprint is finalized and closed, Dish is still very much in the game. Should things pan out in Dish's favor, we could very well see a fifth major carrier here in the US, something that would certainly shake things up in the wireless market. Whether or not Dish is able to accomplish that with Clearwire or by pursuing another deal will have to be seen, but we wouldn't count the satellite provider out just yet.