As expected the FCC announced that it unanimously approved SoftBank's $21.6 billion investment in Sprint (NYSE:S) and Sprint's acquisition of Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), completing the commission's review of the transactions. Sprint's shareholders approved the SoftBank deal June 25 and Clearwire's shareholders are scheduled to vote on Sprint's acquisition of Clearwire July 8. SoftBank said it expects the acquisition to close July 10.
In a statement, Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said: "After thorough review, the commission has found that the proposed Softbank-Sprint-Clearwire transactions would serve the public interest. The increased investment in Sprint's and Clearwire's networks is likely to accelerate deployment of mobile broadband services and enhance competition in the mobile marketplace, promoting customer choice, innovation and lower prices. In addition, the order finds that the indirect foreign ownership of Sprint complies with Section 310 of the Communications Act."
Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported earlier this week that the deal would be approved by the FCC.
SoftBank has faced numerous obstacles in its acquisition of Sprint, primarily from Charlie Ergen's Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), which attempted to outbid SoftBank. SoftBank revised its original proposal to counter Dish's $25.5 billion counterbid, and Dish subsequently abandoned its attempt to get Sprint.
Central to SoftBank's bid for Sprint is Sprint's attempt to acquire the rest of Clearwire that it does not already own. Dish offered $4.40 per share for Clearwire, but Sprint increased its bid for Clearwire to $5 per share, and has since received support from Clearwire's board and minority shareholders as well as Crest Financial, which owns a big stake in Clearwire. Dish has dropped out of competition for Clearwire.
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Updated July 8 to include SoftBank's anticipated July 10 closing of the transaction.