Sprint-Softbank merger a done deal

The $21.6 billion deal was made complicated by a bidding war between SoftBank and Dish Network.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
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Steven Musil
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Softbank has officially completed its $21.6 billion acquisition of Sprint Nextel, Sprint announced Wednesday, finally closing a merger prolonged by a bidding war between SoftBank and Dish Network.

Japan-based Softbank is paying $7.65 per share in cash (about $16.6 billion) for a 78 percent ownership stake in the new company. The deal, which Sprint shareholders overwhelmingly approved late last month, won the unanimous approval of the Federal Communications Commission last week.

Dan Hesse will continue to serve as CEO of the new company, which will drop the Nextel to be known only as Sprint, while Softbank's Masayoshi Son will become the new company's chairman of the board of directors.

Sprint had been in talks with SoftBank since last October regarding a $20.1 billion offer. After Dish came in with a surprise counteroffer of $25.5 billion, SoftBank in turn countered with a $21.6 billion offer it claims gives shareholders greater cash consideration.

Dish complicated the process again with an unsolicited bid to acquire Clearwire, which is majority-owned by Sprint. Sprint had announced in December that it planned to buy the remaining shares of Clearwire and combine Clearwire's network and spectrum assets with its own. During another bidding war, Sprint sued both Dish and Clearwire to prevent the satellite TV provider's takeover of the wireless broadband provider, alleging that Dish's tender offer violated the rights of Sprint's and Clearwire's shareholders and the laws of the state of Delaware.

Eventually realizing that the price was getting too high, Dish removed its offer to acquire Sprint to focus on its acquisition of Clearwire. But late last month, Dish gave up on its $6.3 billion offer to buy Clearwire as well and on June 26 said it was withdrawing the offer. This paved the way for Clearwire to finally be bought by Sprint, a proposal Clearwire shareholders approved earlier this week.