The claws are out in the Dish Network-Sprint Nextel tussle for Clearwire.
Dish slammed Sprint's lawsuit on Tuesday, calling it a "transparent attempt to divert attention from its failure to deal fairly with Clearwire's shareholders."
Sprint on Monday filed a lawsuit to block Dish's attempt to acquire Clearwire, arguing that Dish fooled shareholders into thinking such a deal would work.
Dish's comments are just the latest in a see-saw battle over Clearwire, which has suddenly become an extremely valuable asset because of the radio airwaves, known as wireless spectrum, it owns.
Sprint had initially locked Clearwire into a deal for Sprint to buy out the 50 percent stake of Clearwire it does not currently own for $2.97 per share, or $2.2 billion. But Dish countered with a surprise unsolicited bid for Clearwire of $3.30 per share, or $5.15 billion.
Sprint revised its proposal last month to $3.40 a share, edging Dish's offer by 10 cents a share, an offer Sprint called its "best and final." Two days before stockholders were scheduled to vote on Sprint's proposal, Dish came back with an offer that exceeded Sprint's by $1 a share, valuing the company at $6.3 billion.
After that bid, Clearwire's board backed Dish's proposal, and the deal looked finally ready to go through when Sprint filed its lawsuit. The nation's third-largest wireless carrier has argued that no other deal makes sense because Clearwire's relationships are so intimately tied up with Sprint, including its only legitimate wholesale agreement. A Sprint representative declined to comment on Dish's statement, referring back to its lawsuit. A copy of the complaint can be found here.
Dish, however, is attempting to acquire Sprint as well, and is looking at Clearwire as one move that will get it closer to its goal. Sprint already has a deal with Japanese carrier SoftBank, but Dish has a higher per-share offer on the table. SoftBank was keen on acquiring Clearwire because its spectrum is compatible with SoftBank, meaning their phones would have been compatible too.
Dish's full comment is below:
"Sprint's lawsuit is a transparent attempt to divert attention from its failure to deal fairly with Clearwire's shareholders, as well as to exploit its majority position to block Clearwire's shareholders from receiving a fair price for their shares. DISH is confident that its superior offer, which has been unanimously recommended by the Clearwire Board, including the majority appointed by Sprint, will be upheld and Clearwire shareholders will be free to realize the 29 percent premium represented by the DISH offer."