Despite previously calling on the FCC to halt the clock for review, Dish has now said that it won’t file an opposition to Softbank’s purchase of 70% of Sprint. Why the change of heart? Apparently, Dish cited its own attempt to acquire Clearwire as the reason it no longer plans to object. That deal has put Dish and Sprint against each other as rivals for Clearwire.
Sprint owns the majority of Clearwire and had earlier made an offer to purchase the remaining stake at $2.97 per share, only to be countered by a $3.30 per share offer from Dish. A special committee of Clearwire’s board is reviewing Dish’s offer, though Sprint, as the majority shareholder, calls it “illusory” and insists that it won’t happen.
Whether or not Dish ever truly intended to object to the Softbank-Sprint deal, it is clear that Dish is trying to position itself to gain some leverage. Sprint’s deal with Clearwire is dependent on the Softbank acquisition going through and Dish may have been trying to delay that deal in order to buy itself more time or win some concession from Sprint. Expect a long and bumpy road before anything is finalized, however, as it seems the U.S. Justice Department is making its own request that the FCC delay the deal due to national security concerns.