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Sprint, Dish, & Clearwire's Several Year M&A Orgy
SEC Filings Highlight Oodles of Wheeling and Dealing Since 2011
by Karl Bode 04:24PM Tuesday Feb 05 2013
SEC filings have provided some interesting context for the recent wireless industry M&A orgy starring Dish, Clearwire and Sprint. According to Clearwire SEC filings, Dish had been pursuing an acquisition of Clearwire since mid 2011. Those efforts were of course ultimately scuttled by Sprint, who had to do a lot of last-minute wrangling to keep Dish away from their prized spectrum ambitions.

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Clearwire's filings note the company flirted with offers from Sprint, Dish and two other un-named companies over the last year or two as Clearwire's financial situation became less stable. Clearwire received a $2.2 billion spectrum sharing and partnership offer from Dish last August.

The deal appears to have toppled because Dish wanted to ensure the FCC would back off some conditions (that they provide mandatory satellite phone service) affixed to the spectrum they plan to use for an LTE network before the deal went through. The FCC finally granted the waiver last December, though they require that Dish builds at least 70% of the new network within six years.

Meanwhile, Sprint SEC filings suggest that Sprint has been just as flirtatious the last few years, conducting talks with at least four different companies before agreeing to be acquired by Japan's SoftBank. Companies W, X, Y and Z are referenced, but only two have been identified. "Company W" was a failed merger attempt, likely the aborted MetroPCS merger. "Company Z" was an abandoned spectrum sharing arrangement, likely Dish Network.

Company Y remains unidentified, though Sprint was in talks with that company for a potential merger. It's possible that T-Mobile was that company -- though it would have been a hard sell for Sprint after lobbying so fiercely against AT&T's acquisition attempt. Company X is also unidentified, and involved Sprint grabbing a significant cache of additional spectrum in exchange for partial ownership of Sprint. It's possible that company X was the cable industry and their SpectrumCO coalition, which instead partnered with Verizon.

The filings highlight just a ridiculous few years of flirtations, discussions and deal makings (seriously, get a room) with Dish being the biggest loser of the bunch. Softbank acquired Sprint, Sprint will eventually acquire Clearwire, and T-Mobile merged with MetroPCS. All Charlie Ergen and Dish Network appears to have gotten in the last few months of passionate deal-making is a reputation for being an awful place to work.

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markbot

join:2012-11-21
New York, NY

blame FCC

The FCC is the reason why we have a less competitive wireless industry than it should be. The FCC bureaucrats want to protect their future private sector jobs.

They say they want it to be competitive but engage in actions that cause the opposite...such as delaying approval to use Dish's AWS-4 spectrum for terrestrial-only and approving neutered net neutrality rules. The FCC stole 5mhz of spectrum from DISH so they could sell it to Sprint...and they held up DISH's application for years because of this!! In effect that is what happened.

This is why we need a smaller government, with less power. The more power the government has the less efficient the economy works because these bureaucrats have their own agenda based on an ideology. The private is much more efficient at allocating capital and making decisions.

notsosure

@linkline.com

Re: blame FCC


Too much of anything can be bad, but the reality is that less oversight without the checks and balances lead up to Housing Market collapses like we were handed in 2008 and huge oil spills like we had in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nobody wants to be told what to do but rarely do they ever take into consideration the harm they cause others when greed is involved.

pjf18401

@sprintlink.net

Sprint previous investments in Clearwire

all of this hullabaloo about Sprint's offer being too low is unfair and unfounded!! I do no see anything being mentioned anywhere about the $5B+ Sprint has invested along the way that kept Clearwire operating. If those investments had not been made, this discussion around Dish/Sprint/Clearwire would not be occurring!! let's just keep that in mind as current employees at Clearwire are griping about $.30/share when they truly could be out of a job right now without those previous investments by Sprint!!