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Dish reportedly backing out of $2.2 billion bid for wireless provider LightSquared

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Dish CES 2013 stock 2 1020
Dish CES 2013 stock 2 1020

US satellite provider Dish is reportedly retracting a bid worth $2.2 billion for bankrupt wireless provider LightSquared. The Wall Street Journal says that Dish, who bid for LightSquared in May last year, could confirm the termination of the offer this week.

Dish, better known for its satellite TV service, has spent the last two years trying to diversify its services and become a true ISP. It bid for LightSquared in May of 2013, primarily to gain access to its spectrum, after a series of unsuccessful corporate maneuvers. The satellite company attempt to buy US carrier Sprint in 2013, but was beaten out by Japanese giant Softbank. The company then bid for wireless ISP Clearwire, only to have a resurgent Sprint — part-way through being acquired by Softbank — outmatch its offer and force Dish to pull out of the deal.

LightSquared went bankrupt in 2012 after the FCC denied its application to use L-block spectrum

LightSquared filed for bankruptcy in 2012. It initially intended to use its L-block spectrum — usually reserved for satellites — to offer LTE connections to customers. But after originally accepting its application to set up the network, the Federal Communications Commission changed its mind, saying that the spectrum was too close to that used by GPS services. Dish apparently thought it would be able to use LightSquared's spectrum in its network, either by re-applying to the FCC, or by using the bands for satellite connections as designed.

Dish has been aggressive in trying to acquire spectrum

The Wall Street Journal says the bankrupt company itself opposed Dish's bid, preferring a $4 billion restructuring proposal headed by an investment group. But parties who own nearly $2 billion of LightSquared's bank debt want to push forward with Dish's bid, having built their own restructuring plan around it. The WSJ reports a lawyer for the lenders said on Tuesday that Dish had breached a contract by refusing to buy LightSquared. In court, Dish's own lawyer said the company hadn't breached its contract because it "hadn't formally terminated the agreement to buy LightSquared's assets."

Dish has been aggressive in trying to acquire additional spectrum. It succeeded in its 2011 purchase of TerreStar — another bankrupt wireless provider — but as its larger competitors snap up more available airwaves, the satellite provider remains unsuccessful in its attempts to jump-start the growth of its wireless capability.