Japan's Softbank is facing a competing bid for US operator Sprint Nextel, with Dish Network making an unsolicited $25.5 billion offer.
Dish Network, a US satellite TV provider, is offering $7 (€5.31) per share for Sprint, comprising $4.76 in cash and the rest in Dish shares.
The new bid compares to the $20.1 billion Softbank has offered for a 70% stake in Sprint, in a deal that had been accepted by the Sprint board.
Dish claims that its offer represents a 13% premium to Softbank's, and that a combination would result in $37 billion worth of synergies including $11 billion in cost savings.
Informa Telecoms and Media principal analyst Mike Roberts said a combined Dish-Sprint would combine the third-largest pay TV and mobile operators in the US.
“Dish could combine its 2-GHz LTE spectrum with the LTE spectrum of Sprint and Clearwire to build one of the strongest LTE spectrum portfolios in US, which would be the foundation for a powerful new competitor in the US telecoms market,” he said.
Roberts said the Softbank deal is not without Synergies of its own, “including a common focus on the new 2.5GHz TD-LTE market, the position of challenger battling against larger mobile rivals, and the ability to combine purchasing of smartphones and other mobile devices to cut costs in a way that could make quite a difference.”
Pundits anticipate that the offer could trigger a bidding war between Softbank and Dish, although Softbank's initial offer was considered at the time to be a bold and risky move even at that price.
IHS senior analyst Dexter Thillien said Dish's offer is an evolution of its repeated attempts to pursue a spectrum partnership with Sprint's majority-owned subsidiary Clearwire. Dish has previously made a competing offer to Sprint's bid to buy out the rest of Clearwire.
But with this deal seeming unlikely to be accepted, Dish has apparently decided the best way forward is to acquire Sprint outright.
“Spectrum represents a crucial aspect of the proposed acquisition, as Dish hopes to combine its current holdings with those of Sprint and Clearwire, and create a carrier whose spectrum depth of 230 MHz will dwarf its rivals in the market,” Thillien said.