Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) said SoftBank has given it permission to obtain more information from Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) regarding Dish's $25.5 billion bid for Sprint. However, SoftBank's waiver does not let Sprint disclose nonpublic information or negotiate with Dish.
In a statement Sprint said the waiver from SoftBank will allow Sprint and its representatives, including the special committee of the Sprint board evaluating Dish's offer, to enter into a non-disclosure agreement and discussions with Dish, but only for "the purpose of clarifying and obtaining further information" from Dish about its offer. SoftBank has made a $20.1 billion offer to acquire 70 percent of Sprint and has said it is confident its offer is superior and will close by July.
Sprint said it does not intend to make any further comments on the work of the special committee "until it completes an assessment with respect to whether the Dish proposal is, or is reasonably likely to lead to" a superior offer for Sprint.
According to Reuters, Sprint has set June 12 as the tentative date for a special meeting for shareholders to vote on SoftBank's proposal. Spokesman Scott Sloat told Reuters that the meeting date could change since the company is still waiting for final approval from the SEC.
Reports have indicated that SoftBank does not currently plan to increase its offer to Sprint, but some financial analysts think that SoftBank will ultimately sweeten its offer. According to the Wall Street Journal, Macquarie research analysts predicted in a note to clients that the special committee of Sprint's board likely will deem Dish's offer to "be more favorable" in the next week or two but that they expect SoftBank to ultimately improve its offer by $1 billion to $2 billion.
Also at play is Sprint's bid to take control of Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR). Clearwire investors will vote May 21 on Sprint's $2.97 per share offer for the rest of Clearwire it does already own. However, minority Clearwire shareholders have been arguing for more money from Sprint. If Sprint were to make a higher offer, it would need more funding from SoftBank to finance the deal.
- see this release
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see Reuters article
- see this separate Reuters article
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