Sprint, Softbank and Clearwire press cases for deals to FCC's Genachowski

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son and Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) CEO Erik Prusch recently met with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and other FCC commissioners to argue that regulators should approve their various deals, according to FCC filings.

In the filings with the FCC, the companies noted that on March 14 the top executives from the three companies met with Genachowski and top FCC staff as well as FCC commissioners Robert McDowell, Mignon Clyburn and Ajit Pai. Softbank wants to acquire 70 percent of Sprint in a deal valued at $20.1 billion and Sprint wants to acquire the approximately 50 percent of Clearwire it does not already own in a deal valued at $2.2 billion. The companies have said they expect the deals to close by mid-year.

In the meetings the executives made their pitches for the deals, which they have been pressing upon investors for the past several months. Son noted that when Softbank purchased Vodafone's wireless interests in 2006, two large operators in Japan, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, held around 80 percent of the market, but that through innovative products, pricing, and marketing, Softbank is closing in on the No. 2 spot. Son said "he hopes to bring a similar competitive spark to the U.S. wireless marketplace," the filing notes.

Hesse argued that the deal "will help accelerate Sprint's LTE deployment and allow Sprint to keep pace with the aggressive nationwide LTE buildouts of rival carriers." He also noted that Softbank's "technical and operational expertise will benefit Sprint and allow it to offer consumers more choice, innovation, and a better network and customer experience." The deal with Softbank includes a $12.1 billion payment to Sprint shareholders and a $48 billion capital infusion into Sprint.

Meanwhile, Prusch impressed upon the commissioners that the deals should be approved quickly, and emphasized that "they will provide additional funding for the expansion of Clearwire's LTE services and that any significant delay would make Clearwire more vulnerable."

Clearwire said in late February it would take an $80 million payment from Sprint, a part of Sprint's $2.97-per-share offer to Clearwire. The move complicated Dish Network's (NASDAQ: DISH) $3.30-per-share counterbid to Clearwire, since Dish said it would withdraw its offer if Clearwire took the money. Since then, Dish has not said whether it will do so. Clearwire's special board committee evaluating the deals said at the time that it had not changed its position to recommend Sprint's offer and that it had engaged in discussions with Dish and with Sprint and would continue such discussions.

Meanwhile, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Sprint said in an updated proxy statement that it will continue to use the "S" stock symbol if and when the Softbank deal closes. Sprint has said it plans to drop "Nextel" from its corporate name and be known as "Sprint Corp."

For more:
- see this FCC filing
- see this Kansas City Business Journal article

Related articles:
Clearwire execs stand to rake in millions if Sprint deal goes through
Clearwire to take $80 million payment from Sprint, complicating Dish's bid
Sprint loses 337,000 net subs, lowers LTE coverage goal to 200M by year-end
Sprint held talks with 4 companies before clinching Softbank deal
Analyst: Softbank expects to boost Sprint's margins, capital spending in 2013