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Clearwire Postpones Shareholder Vote To Consider Dish Bid

Bellevue, Wash. — Clearwire’s board of directors postponed today’s planned shareholder vote on Sprint’s acquisition bid in order to consider a sweetened last-minute bid made by Dish, which is seeking Clearwire’s spectrum to help it build its own cellular network.

 The shareholder vote has been postponed until June 13 to give the board time to review Dish’s bid. Dish is seeking

 A special board committee that will evaluate the competing bids expressed interest in Dish’s latest proposal, saying that “while the most recent Dish proposal raises issues that need to be discussed with Dish, the proposal appears to be more actionable than Dish’s previous proposal, and the committee intends to issue its recommendation in due course.”

 For his part, Dish executive VP Tom Cullen said Dish executives are “confident that our offer is superior to the proposed Sprint merger as it offers substantially greater value [and] provides a meaningful alternative to the significant group of Clearwire minority stockholders that remains opposed to the Sprint merger.”

 On Wednesday night, Dish raised its bid to buy Clearwire in a last-minute attempt to derail today’s now-postponed vote on Sprint’s acquisition bid, which the Clearwire board has endorsed. Sprint, which owns a little more than 50 percent of Clearwire, wants to take full control of Clearwire and ownership of Clearwire’s spectrum to accommodate future growth in wireless-data usage.

Sprint and MVNOs currently buy 2.5GHz spectrum from Clearwire on a wholesale basis for resale under their own brand names.

Dish values its bid at $4.40 per share for all of Clearwire’s shares but said that if Sprint does not want to sell its Clearwire shares, then Dish would accept the shares of Clearwire’s other shareholders as long as its rights as a minority investor were protected.

Sprint earlier this month upped its bid to $3.40 per share for the Clearwire shares it doesn’t already own after many Clearwire shareholders expressed dissatisfaction with Sprint’s original bid. In December 2012, Sprint offered $2.97 per share for the shares it didn’t own.

To further complicate matters, Dish also made a bid to buy Sprint after Sprint entered into an agreement with Japan’s Softbank in which SoftBank would purchase 70 percent of Sprint for $20.1 billion.