Sprint receives SoftBank waiver to consider Dish offer

Tue May 21, 2013 12:16am EDT
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By Mari Saito

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp said its Japanese suitor SoftBank Corp granted it a waiver allowing it to consider a $25.5 billion rival bid by Dish Network Corp, as pressure mounts on SoftBank to sweeten its offer for the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier.

Sprint said its recommendation in favor of the SoftBank agreement had not changed, although some major Sprint shareholders including Paulson & Co and Omega Advisors have publicly said the Dish offer looks better than SoftBank's deal.

SoftBank, which agreed last October to pay $20.1 billion for a 70 percent stake in Sprint, said it was confident its bid would prevail. It also announced in a separate filing on Tuesday that it would issue 400 billion yen ($3.9 billion) in bonds in June, the largest issuance ever by a non-financial Japanese company, to help pay for the Sprint deal.

Softbank President Masayoshi Son and Dish's billionaire founder Charlie Ergen are fighting a public battle for control of Sprint after Dish offered to trump the Japanese firm's bid last month.

Son traveled to the United States this month to sell his offer to Sprint shareholders.

The waiver from SoftBank on various provisions of their merger agreement, filed in New York on Monday, permits Sprint and its representatives to furnish Dish with non-public information and to engage in negotiations on Dish's offer.

On April 30, SoftBank waived some terms of its Sprint agreement so Sprint could seek more info from Dish but said at the time that the waiver did not allow Sprint to disclose non-public information or to negotiate with Dish.

DUE DILIGENCE   Continued...

A woman walks past logos of Softbank Corp at its branch in Tokyo April 17, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino