Nearly a month after Sprint and Clearwire entered into an agreement that would see Sprint buying out the remaining portion of Clearwire that it doesn't already own for $2.2 billion, a bit of a wrench has been thrown into the works by Dish Network. Dish today announced that it's offered to acquire all of Clearwire for around $5.15 billion, which works out to $3.30 per share. That's around 11 percent higher than the $2.97 per share offer that Sprint made for Clearwire last month. Clearwire has said that it's "significantly limited" in its ability to negotiate with Dish due to its existing agreements with Sprint and its equityholders, and that Dish's offer "is only a preliminary indication of interest and is subject to numerous, material uncertainties and conditions" and regulatory approval.
While Dish recently got approval from the FCC to use its satellite spectrum to build out a 4G LTE network, so far the company hasn't made any announcements about its plans or any other firms that it may partner with. Interestingly, a rumor claimed last month that Sprint floated the idea of forming a network partnership with Dish. Sprint has yet to comment on Dish's offer to Clearwire, but Hesse and Co. probably aren't terribly thrilled about Dish's decision, even if Sprint and Clearwire are already in a "definitive agreement." If Sprint decides to issue a statement on the matter, we'll update you.
UPDATE: Sprint just issued a statement on Dish's bid for Clearwire, describing it as "not viable" because of various agreements and conditions that are part of the offer. Unsurprisingly, Sprint feels that its offer for Clearwire is better than the "highly conditional" one made by Dish. Sprint's full statement is as follows:
Sprint Issues Statement on Clearwire Transaction
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), January 08, 2013 - Sprint (NYSE: S) today issued the following statement in response to Clearwire’s announcement that a special committee of Clearwire’s board of directors is considering a proposed transaction from DISH.
“Sprint believes its agreement to acquire Clearwire, which offers Clearwire shareholders certain and attractive value, is superior to the highly conditional DISH proposal.
“In contrast, the DISH proposal includes a series of interdependent commercial agreements, debt and equity purchases and spectrum sales, which together with the other conditions required by DISH to complete the transaction, makes the proposal not viable. In addition, the DISH proposal would require Sprint to voluntarily waive rights that it holds as a stockholder of Clearwire and that it possesses through various vendor and customer contracts that significantly predate Sprint’s proposed acquisition of the remainder of Clearwire. Sprint does not intend to waive any of its rights and looks forward to closing the transaction with Clearwire and helping consumers across the country realize the benefits of this combination.”