SoftBank CEO bashes Dish's Sprint offer, says his is superior

The Dish offer is "incomplete and illusory," says the SoftBank CEO, adding that he doesn't see a need to raise his offer.

Masayoshi Son, SoftBank's CEO Stephen Shankland/CNET

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son didn't mince words when discussing Dish Network's unsolicited offer to buy Sprint Nextel from under the Japanese carrier.

"To me, it's ridiculous," he said Tuesday of Dish's vision of merging its satellite TV service with Sprint's wireless service.

Son spent more than 90 minutes during an investor presentation in Japan -- primarily conducted in English -- laying out the argument for why his offer remains superior. As such, he doesn't believe SoftBank needs to raise its offer for Sprint.

Dish earlier this month submitted a bid of $25.5 billion to buy Sprint, a deal that it said breaks down to $7 a share, superior to the $6.22 a share that SoftBank has offered. But Son said he believes Dish's deal misses several details that make it less attractive than it first seems.

"The number is wrong," he said. "It is incomplete and illusory."

When including other factors, Son calculated the value of his offer at $7.65 vs. a $6.31 offer from Dish.

CNET contacted Dish for comment, and we'll update the story when the company responds.

Sprint said Monday that it had gotten approval from SoftBank to further explore Dish's offer.

Dish's deal is inferior because of several factors, Son argued during Tuesday's presentation, which was broadcast online. The combined company under Dish would be saddled with much more debt, would take more than a year to close (versus a July 1 closing target with SoftBank), combine non-industry-standard spectrum from Dish, and have savings based on "unrealistic" expectations, he said. In addition, Dish lacks the experience and industry relationships that SoftBank has developed over the years, Son said.

"Dish has no friends to count on," referring to a history of litigation that has made enemies of many service providers and technology companies.

Son obviously wasn't afraid to go after Dish directly during the presentation, which was largely held to convince Sprint shareholders that the SoftBank deal is the way to go.

"I'm positive after they understand from 360 degrees of thorough study, (the Sprint shareholders) will make the right choice," he said.

In addition to calling it ridiculous, Son criticized the Dish offer as complicated and said Dish founder Charlie Ergen lacks the experience to lead a wireless company. He noted that Ergen has never acquired such a large company, instead preferring to scoop up businesses out of bankruptcy. He added that Sprint shareholders would "buy a headache" with Dish and its incompatible spectrum if they were to approve the deal.

Dish has suggested that it would have an easier time receiving U.S. regulatory approvals to buy Sprint because it was a domestic company. But Son said that indications from U.S. officials are that the process "is going very smooth and accordingly."

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has said the companies are on track to close the deal by July 1.

About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

 

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