SoftBank’s Enhanced Sprint Offer Turns Spotlight On Dish

By Mani
Updated on

SoftBank Corp (OTCMKTS:SFTBF) (TYO:9984)’s enhanced offer for Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S)  has turned the focus on DISH Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH)’s chairman Ergen.

SoftBank's Enhanced Sprint Offer Turns Spotlight On Dish

Yesterday SoftBank Corp (OTCMKTS:SFTBF) (TYO:9984) upped its offer for Sprint by 7.5 percent to $21.6 billion to counter Dish’s unsolicited proposal of $25.5 billion.

SoftBank’s Sweetened Offer:

The Tokyo-based mobile-phone carrier has sweetened its offer with $7.48 a share of Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S), against $6.30 a share proposed earlier.

SoftBank Corp (OTCMKTS:SFTBF) (TYO:9984)’s October offer involved $20.1 billion for a 70 percent stake.

Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S)’s board of directors also unanimously approved the Tokyo-based mobile phone carrier’s improved offer. The third-largest U.S. wireless carrier indicated that DISH Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH) never made an actionable counter proposal and their proposal is not reasonably likely to a superior offer.

After the talks broke-down, Sprint asked Dish to destroy the confidential information it supplied to the company.

SoftBank Garners Support From Major Investors

The Tokyo-based mobile-phone carrier’s improved offer also got support from hedge fund Paulson & Co, the second largest Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) shareholder.

SoftBank Corp (OTCMKTS:SFTBF) (TYO:9984)’s proposal also got a boost earlier this month when the biggest shareholder advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. recommended the mobile-phone carrier’s merger proposal. The advisory firm in its note felt the deal would supply Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) with the cash it needs to upgrade its network and compete with larger carriers. However the shareholder advisory firm indicated that it couldn’t determine whether Dish Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH)’s offer was superior because it hasn’t been presented to investors.

According to Leon Cooperman, head of Omega Advisors Inc in New York, the onus is now on Dish chairman Ergen to produce a more compelling offer. Leon Cooperman’s firm held 65.2 million Sprint shares as of March 31.

Leon Cooperman remarked ‘Let us see how Mr. Ergen responds’.

BTIG’s Walter Piecyk remarked: “We still think this could leave Ergen an opening to make an offer that results in Sprint’s stock rising rather than falling.”

Another Sprint investor Roy Behren said: “I am withholding judgment until Ergen responds. The party may not be over yet.” Roy Behren  co-manages the $4.7 billion Merger Fund at Westchester Capital in Valhalla, New York.

Battle Of Billionaires

The recent bidding war for Sprint has set up a battle of billionaires vying to expand into new territory. SoftBank Corp (OTCMKTS:SFTBF) (TYO:9984)’s founder Masayoshi Son is the 66th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $13.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Ergen is ranked 87th, with a net worth of $11.8 billion.

The revised deal with Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) offers Dish Network Corp (NASDAQ:DISH) a June 18 deadline to submitting a best and final offer.

Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S)’s shareholder meeting has been postponed to June 25, from the originally scheduled June 12.

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