A report from the Wall Street Journal today indicates Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse are scheduled to meet with the FCC. Sources indicate that one of the topics of discussion is a possible merger with T-Mobile. During January, it was revealed that Sprint obtained some proposals from different banks that demonstrated how a merger of the two carriers could be made to work financially. That would only be one hurdle to be jumped if the merger is ever going to happen. It is looking more and more like regulatory approvals will be the bigger problem, which would be a good reason for the two CEOs to spend some time during a face to face meeting with FCC officials to discuss the merger.
According to different sources, the Department of Justice appears reluctant, if not being outright against the idea, to see the number of “major” carriers being reduced from four down to three. SoftBank and Sprint are likely to counter that argument by pointing out that Verizon and AT&T are the heavyweights in the market and the weakness of the third and fourth largest carriers is actually hurting competition, a situation that could be corrected by allowing the merger to occur. By meeting with the FCC, SoftBank/Sprint may also be able to get a government agency on board with the concept to help in the battle with the Department of Justice.
It wouldn’t be that easy for Sprint to buy T-Mobile, right? According to Reuters, Dish Network may want in on the bidding war for the nation’s self-proclaimed ‘uncarrier’. Dish reportedly wants to expand its reach beyond the pay TV industry. They are so serious about buying T-Mobile that they spoke with its parent company, Deutsche Telekom AG. Read more
Another day, another Snapdragon 800-powered Android smartphone. Sharp announced their latest flagship offering for Japanese carrier Softbank, called the Aquos Xx, and it’s got specs to compete with any other phone on the market. You get the de facto standard flagship processor, a Snapdragon 800, 2 GB of RAM, a full 1080p, 5.5-inch screen, and a 16.3 megapixel rear camera. On top of that, it sports an incredible thin bezel. As of right now, it’ll only be available in Japan this December, but depending on how it sells, it’s possible we could see it in other markets. Read more
During a recent conference call to discuss the Dish Network’s disappointing second-quarter financial results, CEO Charles Ergen dropped some hints that the company is still interested in becoming a player in the wireless carrier market. During the second quarter, Dish saw its subscriber base shrink by about 78,000 subscriptions as it continued to try to compete in the changing landscape of video content. Combined with increasing programming costs, the company experienced a loss during the second quarter. In an effort to reverse course, Dish would like to capitalize on an asset it continues to hold, unused wireless spectrum. Finding a partner to make that a reality has been a challenge though as the recently company lost out to Softbank in a bid to acquire Sprint earlier this year.
Ergen seems to think there is still an opportunity for Dish and Sprint to do something together that would benefit both companies. While acknowledging that Dish “gave our best shot to get it” referring to the Sprint acquisition attempt, Ergen still thinks some kind of partnership might be “an interesting fit.” What would not be as interesting would be an attempt to acquire T-Mobile, a move Ergen says “may be a challenge we wouldn’t feel comfortable taking on.” That position is quite a bit different from earlier this year when Dish sought out a possible deal with T-Mobile.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, the FCC has approved Softbank’s bid to merge with Sprint, and by extension Clearwire. The process started last year when Softbank and Sprint announced plans for the merger. Sprint also announced plans to acquire Clearwire using cash from the Softbank deal, as part of a strategy to increase their 4G LTE footprint in the U.S.
Since then, Softbank had to fight off a competing bid from Dish. Ultimately, Sprint stockholders approved the Softbank offer of $21.6B giving Softbank a 70% stake in the new company. With FCC approval, the companies will now be able to complete the merger and start moving forward with their develop Sprint into a much larger carrier, capable of competing with Verizon and AT&T.
DISH Network announced today that they have submitted a merger proposal to Sprint with a value of $25.5 billion. The offer consists of $17.3 billion in cash and another $8.2 billion in stock. According to DISH Network’s news release, the cash portion of the deal represents an 18% premium over the offer currently on the table from SoftBank. DISH Network also points out that the ownership proposal for stockholders is a better deal as Sprint stockholders will end up with a 32% in the entire merged company whereas SoftBank is only offering a 30% stake in the Sprint portion of the company if they buy it up. According to DISH Network, the merger with Sprint will create a unique company that can offer customers video, broadband, and voice services both in-home and out-of-home.
Keep in mind Sprint is also in the process of acquiring full ownership of Clearwire, but that deal is contingent on the closing of the SoftBank deal. With a competing offer now on the table, it is not clear how that might impact the acquisition of Clearwire. Sprint has not yet issued a response to this latest offer. Hit the break for the full press release issued by DISH Network. Read more
Slow your roll, Sprint! The Department of Justice has stepped in and filed a request for the FCC to defer approval of the Sprint/Softbank Merger. The DOJ said it was “currently reviewing this matter for any national security, law enforcement, and public safety issues.” The deferral request should be seen as a plea for more time rather than condemnation of the proposal. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are also taking part in the review.
An FCC hold will likely push the completion of the deal past the mid-2013 goal Sprint and Softbank stated back in October. It will also delay Sprint’s snail-paced, but growing, LTE rollout. Remember Softbank, Japan’s largest wireless provider, is bringing the green in this acquisition: $20.1 billion ($12.1 billion in cash consideration & $8 billion in capital).
Source: The Verge
We already know that Sprint & Clearwire has quite the relationship, but Sprint fully intends from not just owning some of Clearwire, but it wants to acquire what’s left of the available Clearwire share. Reuters reports that Sprint (by way of Softbank) wants full control of Clearwire’s network and subsequent spectrum by making a full $2.1 billion offer. If the deal is approved (and all indications point to its approval), the entire value of Clearwire would be worth somewhere in the area of $4.2 billion— though we won’t see the deal formally approved until at least sometime in the March or April of the upcoming year.
Talk about Sprint wanting to put a ring on it. Sheesh.We’ll be on the lookout for any further developments on this big news.
Reporting on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, show host David Farber indicated negotiations between Sprint and Clearwire have been heating up in the last few days. Sprint, which already owns a majority interest in Clearwire, has been rumored to be working on a deal to buy out the remaining shareholders. Discussions with some of the other major parties, like Bright House, Intel, and Comcast, have been held in an effort to work through some of the complexities of a potential buyout. According to Farber’s sources, Sprint is trying to gain complete control over Clearwire in order to have access to Clearwire’s spectrum.
Sprint is poised to become a subsidiary of Softbank, probably in March or April 2013. Individuals familiar with the negotiations think the closing of the Softbank deal and the Sprint/Clearwire deal should occur at the same time. In order to provide appropriate notice, Sprint will likely need to issue a statement before the end of the year. Clearwire’s debt holders noted the company did not call First Lien Notes yesterday, adding to the speculation that Clearwire does not anticipate being an independent company for much longer.
Sprint officially holds the controlling interest in Clearwire after buying out a shareholder pushing their stake in Clearwire from 48.1% to 50.8%. Clearwire and Sprint were both struggling financially but this move was made possible by Softbank acquiring Sprint on Monday. Sprint and Clearwire have done this dance before, but now that they have support from Softbank and a little more financial support it will be interesting to see what these companies are able to do in the future.