FCC Approves the Sprint-Softbank Merger
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission recently announced the removal of the last barrier to a three-company merger that will see Japan’s SoftBank take control of Sprint Wireless, which is set to take over Clearwire. Clearwire’s Board of Directors have already recommend that Sprint’s offer to buy a controlling stake in Clearwire be approved by shareholders. Sprint’s offer, which will see it purchasing the remaining 50% of Clearwire for $5 per share, values Clearwire at $14 billion.
Sprint anticipates both transactions will close early in July, subject to the remaining closing conditions. The transaction will bring to an end a months-long process that has seen offers, counter-offers, and considerable competition. The Japanese cellular carrier and Internet solutions giant SoftBank initially offered to purchase a 70% stake in Sprint for $20 billion in October of last year. The move was largely thought of as a means for SoftBank to continue growing as its home wireless market reached saturation.
Softbank saw competition in the form of Dish Network, which launched a surprise bid to purchase Sprint for $25.5 billion. Dish’s offer would have required it to take on considerable debt in order to accomplish, though the company dropped out of the running late last month. SoftBank eventually raised its offer to $21.6 billion, with the cash component of the deal for shareholders rising to $4.5 billion. The final offer leaves the Japanese carrier in control of 78% of Sprint.
The Japanese carrier hopes to use both Sprint’s and Clearwire’s 4G spectrum holdings to improve service for existing customers and attract new ones along the way. In courting Sprint’s shareholders, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son touted his company’s expertise in 4G technologies, specifically its use of a single-frequency network technology. The tech could allow Sprint to reduce interference in its own network and provide its customers with improved reception.
) via CNET