SoftBank slams Dish's Sprint bid, rules out sweeteners

Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:27pm EDT
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By Mari Saito and Sinead Carew

TOKYO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - SoftBank Corp President Masayoshi Son came out swinging on Tuesday against Dish Network Corp's rival bid for Sprint Nextel Corp, saying the satellite TV company would cripple Sprint with debt and was ill-prepared to run a wireless service.

Billionaire Son said there would be no need for SoftBank to sweeten its bid and he dismissed Dish's $25.5 billion offer as "incomplete and illusory." He argued his $20.1 billion offer would ultimately be better value for Sprint shareholders.

Son, who plans to make a U.S. trip to plead his case with Sprint shareholders, calculated that SoftBank's bid is worth 21 percent more than the Dish offer after items, including synergies, debt, break-up fees and the timing for a deal close are taken into account.

"Our price offer is better than theirs. Our timing is one year quicker at least. Our leverage is much more healthy," Son told a packed news conference in Tokyo. "(Their) financing is uncommitted. We are committed."

The two sides differ substantially on what their offers are actually worth. Son calculated his bid is worth $7.65 per share, against what he said was a Dish offer value of $6.31 per share. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has calculated the value of his deal is $7 per share, in comparison with what Dish says is a $6.22 per share deal from SoftBank.

Two big Sprint shareholders, Paulson & Co and Omega Advisors, have publicly said that the Dish offer looks better than SoftBank's.

Dish, which is aiming to tap Sprint's wireless network to offer mobile video services and to combine their spectrum holdings, made its offer earlier this month. SoftBank placed its bid last October.


Softbank Corp President Masayoshi Son speaks during a news conference in Tokyo April 30, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino