Dish steps down from Sprint merger to clear way for Clearwire

After a months-long battle between Dish and SoftBank over Sprint, the satellite company abandons its $25.5 billion bid for the wireless carrier to focus on "completing the Clearwire tender offer."

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Just when it was looking like Dish would never let Sprint go, it has.

The satellite company announced Tuesday that it was planning to step down from it's $25.5 billion offer on Sprint to focus on it's deal with Clearwire. This means that Sprint will most likely soon be in the hands of Japanese wireless carrier SoftBank.

"While DISH continues to see strategic value in a merger with Sprint, the decisions made by Sprint to prematurely terminate our due diligence process and accept extreme deal protections in its revised agreement with SoftBank, among other things, have made it impracticable for DISH to submit a revised offer by the June 18th deadline imposed by Sprint," Dish wrote in a statement Tuesday. "We will consider our options with respect to Sprint, and focus our efforts and resources on completing the Clearwire tender offer."

Sprint has been in talks with SoftBank since last October regarding a $20.1 billion offer. But, as the closing date neared, Dish came in with a surprise counteroffer of $25.5 billion. The two companies have carried out a public battle, each claiming it would be the best buyer for the troubled wireless carrier.

Last week, SoftBank put on the pressure and upped its original offer to $21.6 billion, which it claims gives shareholders greater cash consideration. With the revised merger agreement a new deadline of June 18, 2013 was set for Dish to provide its "best and final" offer -- an offer that now will not happen.

In addition to the battling over Dish's unsolicited offer for Sprint, the two companies also have been engaged in a war of words over each other's attempts to woo Clearwire. Sprint on Monday filed a lawsuit to block Dish's attempt to acquire Clearwire, arguing that Dish fooled shareholders into thinking such a deal would work.

Dish slammed Sprint's lawsuit on Tuesday, calling it a "transparent attempt to divert attention from its failure to deal fairly with Clearwire's shareholders."

When contacted by CNET, Sprint and Clearwire declined to comment. CNET also contacted SoftBank for comment and we'll update the story when we get more information.