Dish Network’s (DISH) announcement late on Wednesday that the company was besting Sprint Nextel’s (S) offer to buy the mobile broadband provider Clearwire (CWR) is the latest salvo in a complex and increasingly contentious bidding war between the two companies.
Dish topped Sprint’s offer of $3.40 per share of the $5.13 billion company with a counterproposal that would give Clearwire shareholders $4.40, putting the total for the deal at $6.5 billion.
The news unfolds against the backdrop of the concurrent bidding war between Dish and the Japanese mobile firm SoftBank over Sprint itself. Dish has led what many have called a smear campaign against SoftBank, wildly trumpeting fears about alleged ties between SoftBank and the Chinese government.
That deal now seems to be inching closer to realization, with Sprint and SoftBank having reached an agreement with U.S. regulators over national security concerns. In particular, SoftBank has agreed to remove equipment from one of its Chinese suppliers Huawei Technologies Co., also alleged to have close ties to the Chinese government.
Dish may have reason to do anything to turn at least one of these deals in its favor. The loss of Sprint, the nation’s third largest wireless provider, to a Japanese mobile company would be significant, as would the loss of Clearwire. Greater access to any aspect of the mobile market could be a boon to the company.
However, Dish’s lack of hesitation in making such a substantial counter offer only days before Clearwire shareholders vote to approve the deal with Sprint, much like the company’s attempts to tar SoftBank as an enemy infiltrator, are indications of just how urgently the company feels it needs at least one of the situations to turn in its favor.
Clearwire, meanwhile, has itself not been untouched by accusations of collusion with the Chinese Communist Party, and recently said that it too would remove Huawei’s products from its own in order to allay fears on the part of investors and regulators alike.