In any game of telecom hardball, Dish’s Charlie Ergen would be the guy on the mound throwing beanballs and daring anyone to charge the mound. Late yesterday Dish shook up the Sprint consolidation game yet again with another unambiguously audacious bid for Clearwire.
After apparently shifting his attack to a purchase for all of Sprint and away from disrupting the bid for Sprint, Dish has shifted back with an 11th hour bid of $4.40 per share in cash for Clearwire. That’s a full dollar per share and some 29% higher than Sprint’s recently raised bid for the half of Clearwire it doesn’t already own, which was about to go up for an already delayed vote tomorrow.
So let’s get this straight. Dish is currently negotiating with Sprint itself to top Softbank’s bid and arguing that its higher bid is superior, and is simultaneously trying to kill Sprint’s efforts to buy Clearwire – which Dish would surely want to buy along with the rest of Sprint anyway. It can’t win the Clearwire auction unless Sprint and its majority position decides to let it, but it makes it more difficult for Sprint to win it also – and thus pressures Softbank further. Both of its bids are nominally higher, but Ergen has been having trouble getting either of the boards of directors to listen with both ears.
Hence the beanball analogy, since one only throws a beanball when one feels one has been denied the respect due and things have gotten way out of hand. In baseball it’s a somewhat violent act, but this isn’t baseball and it’s just about money (and spectrum) for both sides. Ergen is proclaiming even more loudly that he’s not going to go away, and by the way – this game doesn’t exactly have an umpire. So if nobody charges the mound, he can just keep throwing them until he runs out of baseballs. I wonder how many he really has.
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