Englewood, Colo. — Dish Network said it is dropping its bid to purchase wireless carrier Clearwire after Clearwire’s board last week agreed to a sweetened bid by Sprint.
The decision paves the way for Sprint to acquire the rest of the approximately 51 percent of Clearwire shares that it doesn’t own, giving Sprint full control over money-losing Clearwire and its spectrum and enabling Sprint to use the spectrum to expand its network capacity.
Dish cited “the recent change in recommendation by Clearwire” for its own change of heart.
Sprint and Clearwire agreed to Sprint’s acquisition bid last year, but Dish launched its own bid earlier this year. The Clearwire board then switched gears to accept Dish’s bid, but Sprint upped its bid, which Clearwire’s board then accepted. Sprint also filed a lawsuit to prevent Dish from buying all or a portion of Clearwire.
Dish’s withdrawal from the fight to buy Clearwire marks the pay-TV company’s second failure to buy a wireless carrier and additional spectrum. Dish competed with Japan carrier SoftBank to buy Sprint but lost that bidding war earlier this week.
Dish sought Sprint to break into the cellular market to diversify beyond the mature satellite-TV business, achieve economies of scale, and add to its wireless spectrum holdings, which it plans to use to build its own network. In its Clearwire bid, Dish sought access to Clearwire’s spectrum and expertise in helping it build its own wireless voice and data network.
Dish also wants to use wireless spectrum to provide wireless broadband data to homes to complement its satellite-TV business.
Because of Sprint’s ownership of more than 50 percent of Clearwire stock, Dish’s bid would have given the satellite-TV company only a minority share of Clearwire. Dish sought a minimum of 25 percent of Clearwire, governance rights and some board seats in its bid.