Crest Financial, a minority Clearwire shareholder, is not backing down from its bid to block Sprint Nextel's takeover of Clearwire. Crest said it hired proxy-solicitation firm D. F. King & Co., to help it oppose the deal.
Top Clearwire executives appear set to rake in millions of dollars from stock payments if Sprint Nextel's bid to buy the roughly 50 percent of Clearwire it does not already own gets approved by Clearwire's minority shareholders.
Clearwire said it would take an $80 million payment from Sprint Nextel, a part of Sprint's $2.97 per share offer to buy the 50 percent of Clearwire that it does not already own. The move complicates Dish Network's counterbid to Clearwire, since Dish said it would withdraw its offer if Clearwire took the money.
Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen said the company would consider a partnership with Sprint Nextel, which Dish is challenging with a rival bid for Clearwire.
Clearwire said its subscriber base declined 8 percent year-over-year to 9.6 million people. The carrier blamed the decline on the fact that Sprint Nextel is no longer selling smartphones that run on Clearwire's WiMAX network.
Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen said that his company wants to use its 40 MHz of AWS-4 spectrum to create a wireless network to allow customers to access video content as well as voice and data inside and outside the home. He said that Dish would like to partner with a wireless company to do that, but that if Dish cannot, it will look to sell its airwaves.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson admitted that his company didn't execute well on its proposed $39 billion dollar deal to purchase T-Mobile USA when it made a bid for the operator in 2010. "I wouldn't say it was a bad decision, but it was a decision that didn't go the way I wanted," Stephenson said. "We didn't execute well." The company ended up dropping its T-Mobile bid in late 2011 amid regulatory opposition.
For a little more than a year before Sprint Nextel struck a deal with Softbank, it held merger and strategic partnership talks with four companies, according to a regulatory filing. Two of those companies were likely Dish Network and MetroPCS, though Sprint is not disclosing the names of its would-be partners.
Clearwire said it is still considering Sprint Nextel's $2.97 per share offer to buy the 50 percent of Clearwire that it does not already own--and Clearwire is still considering Dish Network's unsolicited $3.30 per share counterbid for Clearwire. However, Clearwire said its special board committee that is evaluating the deals has not changed its recommendation to accept Sprint's bid.
Verizon Wireless pushed the FCC to apply its spectrum screen to Clearwire's trove of 2.5 GHz spectrum while the agency reviews Sprint Nextel's proposed purchase of Clearwire. If the FCC does apply the screen to the deal, the agency could limit how much spectrum Sprint could ultimately acquire through its purchase of Clearwire.