Dish Network has upped the ante in its bid to acquire Clearwire, an escalation of its bidding war with Sprint Nextel over the wireless broadband provider.
A week after Sprint boosted its offer to $3.40 a share for the 50 percent of the company it does not currently own, the satellite TV provider countered on Wednesday with an offer of $4.40 per share in cash, a 29 percent premium over Sprint's offer. Dish will officially tender the offer before the Clearwire shareholders meeting on Friday, where a vote on Sprint's offer is planned.
Sprint announced in December that the two companies had agreed to a deal for the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier to acquire Clearwire for $2.97 per share, or $2.2 billion. But Dish countered with a surprise unsolicited bid of $3.30 per share, or $5.15 billion. Last week, Sprint revised its offer, edging Dish's offer by 10 cents a share. As with Sprint's initial offer, Clearwire's board called Sprint's revised offer superior to Dish's.
According to Sprint, Clearwire partial owners Comcast, Intel, and BrightHouse, which collectively own about 26 percent of Clearwire's shares, had endorsed the share-price increase, which Sprint called its "best and final."
Clearwire said it will examine Dish's revised bid.
"The Special Committee of Clearwire's board of directors has received Dish Network's offer and will review it to determine the best course of action for the company and its stockholders," the company said in a statement. "The Special Committee has not made any determination to change its recommendation of the current Sprint transaction."
CNET has contacted Sprint for comment and will update this report when we learn more.
Clearwire, which provides 4G services to carriers and consumers, controls wireless spectrum that could be valuable to Dish, which recently won approval from the Federal Communications Commission to build its own LTE network.
However, the satellite TV provider must finish 40 percent of its LTE network within the next four years, and 70 percent within seven years. An acquisition of Clearwire would give it a boost toward making those deadlines.