Charlie Ergen has apparently found the tipping point for the board of directors over at Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR, news, filings). The latter has abruptly abandoned its majority owner Sprint's side and is now recommending shareholders take the $4.40/share tender offer currently pending from Dish Networks.
Sprint continues to own a slight majority stake, so Dish can't get past the 50% hump without their consent. Clearly this remains an unstable situation, since the idea of Sprint and Dish each riding half of a rapidly sinking Clearwire into the ground while refusing to blink is just a bit crazy.
But for the Clearwire board, it was clearly very hard to recommend shareholders take a lower offer in lieu of $4.40/share in cash now. So they didn't, and will let Sprint and perhaps Softbank sort it out later. They've already got more out of this than anyone expected for shareholders, given the failure of the actual WiMAX business model. Why complicated it by spending the next few years in court defending the increasingly indefensible?
So the question now becomes whether or not Dish will come up with a final offer for all of Sprint next week and try to sweep the table clean. Or will the billionaires Ergen and Son finally sit down in a back room somewhere and make a deal? Based on the soap opera so far, I'm going to have to go with a final offer by Dish next week.