SoftBank boost as Dish abandons Sprint bid

City A.M. Reporter
JAPAN’S SoftBank cleared a major hurdle in its attempt to buy US wireless provider Sprint Nextel yesterday, as rival bidder Dish Network declined to make a new offer after SoftBank sweetened its own bid last week.

SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son is now a step closer to sealing the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese company in history, after winning support from a key shareholder by raising SoftBank’s offer to $21.6bn (£13.9bn) from $20.1bn last week.
Son, a rare risk-taker in a cautious Japanese corporate environment, has been determined to thwart a rival bid from Dish – led by chairman Charlie Ergen, known for aggressive takeover attempts – in an effort to break into the US market.

“We look forward to receiving the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and shareholder approvals which will allow us to close in early July and begin the hard work of building the new Sprint into a meaningful third competitor in the US market,” Softbank said in a statement.

Satellite TV provider Dish said it was unable to meet Sprint’s deadline because of changes the wireless company made in its agreement with SoftBank, such as higher break-up fees that raised the hurdles for a Dish deal. However, the company said it was still considering its options and “continues to see the value in a merger with Sprint”.

Dish said it would now focus on its tender offer for Clearwire, threatening to disrupt Sprint’s own takeover bid for the broadband provider.

Sprint needs Clearwire’s valuable wireless airwaves for its planned high-speed network upgrades.