In the wake of the Sprint-SoftBank deal, we learned that Sprint would need to buy out the remaining half of Clearwire they didn’t yet own. Sprint’s offer to Clearwire was for $800 million, spread out over 10 months. Each month, Clearwire can take an $80 million payment, which is convertible to Clearwire stock.
The offer was competing with Dish Network, which is still quite serious about obtaining a foothold into the mobile landscape. Dish’s offer was for $3.30/share, or roughly $5.15 billion. Clearwire currently trades at $3.27/share.
Seems cut and dry, right? Dish offered more money, essentially an attempt to buy Clearwire at face value… which seemed a good deal for everyone. Things are rarely as they seem, though. Sprint already owns half of Clearwire, and dealing to Dish means competition. Rather than sell, Sprint made an offer that can be converted to debt, and weakens the position of minority shareholders at Clearwire.
The Sprint deal isn’t good for everyone, but it’s good for the decision makers. The Dish offer becomes less and less likely each time Clearwire draws from Sprint, as it was a point of contention from the beginning. Each month that Clearwire draws against Sprint’s offer, payment comes in the form of a converted note, meaning diluted Clearwire shares. Essentially, Sprint increases their holding in Clearwire, then converts the debt. It’s a win-win scenario, with no room for Dish.