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Dish tops Sprint's bid for Clearwire (update: shareholder vote postponed)

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Dish (STOCK)
Dish (STOCK)

As Friday’s shareholder vote approaches, the competition for Clearwire’s spectrum continues to heat up, with Dish upping its bid to $4.40 a share in cash — nearly a third higher than Sprint’s $3.40 bid from just last week, reports The Wall Street Journal. But while Dish is throwing out the higher dollar figure, the would-be deal is muddled by the fact that Sprint already owns half of Clearwire, and has had a standing agreement to buy the remainder since last year. As The Wall Street Journal points out, any deal would require Sprint to sign off, and while the financial incentives could make it worthwhile in the short term, Sprint and its potential parent SoftBank desperately need the additional spectrum to complete their vision for a nationwide LTE network.

Sprint has previously said that $3.40 is its "best and final offer" for Clearwire stock, so chances are slim for a counteroffer before Friday’s vote. Since early this year, Dish and SoftBank have been locked in a battle to acquire both Sprint and Clearwire, with the boards of both target companies siding against Dish’s ostensibly higher offers. Both Sprint’s offer to acquire Clearwire and SoftBank’s offer to acquire Sprint are scheduled to be voted on within the next couple of weeks, with the latter just getting clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment following Dish’s media campaign to fend off the deal.

Update: Clearwire has postponed its shareholder vote. In a statement, DISH executive vice president of corporate development Tom Cullen said “We are pleased that the Clearwire Board of Directors has decided to delay the stockholder vote to thoughtfully consider the merits of our proposal."