Dish Network trumps Sprint Nextel with unsolicited bid for Clearwire Corp

Dish Network Corp, the second- largest satellite-TV provider in the US, yesterday launched an unsolicited $2.28-billion bid for wireless broadband provider Clearwire Corp, trumping an offer from Sprint Nextel Corp.

Dish, controlled by billionaire founder Charlie Ergen, has offered $3.30 a share for a 49.8-per cent stake, , a premium of 13 per cent to Clearwire's closing price of $2.92 yesterday, and 11 per cent higher than Sprint's $2.97 offer.

The offer values Clearwire at $5.15 billion.

Under the proposed deal, Dish would buy about 24 per cent of Clearwire's spectrum assets for $2.2 billion, and Clearwire would build and manage a wireless network for Dish, it will also buy at least a quarter of the Clearwire's stock at $3.30 a share and pay $800 million in additional financing to the struggling company.

Sprint, the third-largest telecommunications company in the US, which already owns 50.8 per cent in Clearwire, had in December offered to buy the remaining 49.2 per cent for $2.90 per share. It later raised the offer to $2.97 per share, or $2.2 billion.  (See: Clearwire agrees to Sprint Nextel's sweetened $2.2 bn offer)

Although the deal has the backing of Clearwire's board and its three minority shareholders, Comcast Corp, Intel Corp and Bright House Networks holding about a combined 13 per cent stake, some of other Clearwire's minority shareholders like Crest Financial had said that it would block the deal and advised Clearwire to hold out for at least $5 per share.