Looks like the battle for Clearwire just got even more interesting. A little over a week after Sprint raised its bid for the remaining portion of Clearwire that it doesn't already own, beating out Dish Network's rival offer for Clearwire, Dish has countered with a higher bid of its own.
Dish has increased its bid for Clearwire to $4.40 per share, which is $1.10 higher than its original offer and $1.00 higher than Sprint's latest offer. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said in a statement that "Clearwire's spectrum portfolio has always been a key component to implementing our wireless plans of delivering a superior product and service offering to customers." Dish also said that while its offer is intended for all of Clearwire's shareholders, it would be willing to buy out only the company's minority stockholders as long as it could gain at least 25 percent of Clearwire's voting shares.
Clearwire's shareholders are slated to vote on Sprint's offer on May 31, meaning that Dish is slipping in its higher bid at the last minute. To complicate matters even further, Clearwire has pointed out to The Wall Street Journal that it can't be sold to another company without Sprint's approval, adding that Sprint has shown that it's "not a willing seller." Clearwire also says that while its Special Committee will examine Dish's offer, it has not changed its recommendation that Clearwire stockholders vote in favor of Sprint's offer. Sprint says that it still expects to close its Clearwire transaction by July 1.
Dish gained FCC approval in late 2012 for a plan to use its spectrum to build out a wireless network, and since then the company has been aggressively working to strike a deal with other wireless companies to aid in its network plans. In addition to its bid for Clearwire, Dish is currently battling SoftBank in an effort to acquire Sprint. It remains to be seen if Dish will come out ahead in either fight, but Charlie Ergen is confident that Dish's offer for Clearwire is superior to Sprint's, saying that it offers a greater value and provides an alternative for the Clearwire stockholders that oppose the Sprint deal.