A surprise bid for Clearwire Corp. (NASDAQ:CLWR) by Dish Networks (NASDAQ:DISH) could upset plans by Sprint-Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S) to buy it, as well as Sprint’s mega-deal with Japan’s SoftBank Corp. (TYO:9984).
Late Tuesday, Dish, controlled by satellite pioneer Charlie Ergen, offered Clearwire shareholders $3.30 per share for the Bellevue, Wash., provider of high-speed data service, which is already controlled by Sprint, of Overland Park, Kan. Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. mobile carrier, had made an offer to buy out minority shareholders for $2.97 per share.
Clearwire said it would study the offer, especially because the $5 billion bid is higher than Sprint’s. As well, Dish, of Englewood Park, Colo., also said it’s willing to acquire 24 percent of Clearwire’s valuable spectrum for about $2.2 billion.
Sprint, which had a minority stake in Clearwire, acquired a small stake from founder Craig McCaw last quarter, after SoftBank agreed to essentially take over Sprint this year for as much as $21 billion. SoftBank gave Sprint about $3 billion via a bond purchase.
Shares of Clearwire rose more than 7 percent in Wednesday trading to $3.13, valuing the company at $4.6 billion. Dish shares rose 88 cents to $36.85 and Sprint shares fell 9 cents to $5.88.