Sprint shareholders give thumbs up to SoftBank deal
By Carey Gillam
OVERLAND PARK, Kansas (Reuters) - Shareholders of Sprint Nextel Corp (S.N: Quote) voted on Tuesday in favor of a sweetened takeover offer from SoftBank Corp (9984.T: Quote), ending a contentious takeover battle for the No. 3 U.S. wireless service provider.
Japan's SoftBank, which fought Dish Network Corp (DISH.O: Quote) to buy Sprint, now just needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. telecommunications regulator, to close the deal.
According to Sprint, about 80 percent of its shares outstanding were voted in favor of the $21.6 billion deal that would leave SoftBank with 78 percent ownership of the company.
Sprint said in a statement released after a sparsely attended meeting that it was sticking by its previous target for the deal to close in early July.
On June 10 SoftBank increased its bid to $21.6 billion from $20.1 billion and raised the cash component of the deal for shareholders by $4.5 billion, trumping Dish's bid and gaining support from Sprint's second biggest shareholder Paulson & Co. which had previously said it preferred Dish's bid.
Dish, which made a bid for Sprint on April 15, abandoned its efforts to buy the company after SoftBank raised its bid.
The SoftBank/Sprint deal would be Japan's biggest takeover of an overseas company. SoftBank's founder Masayoshi Son is looking to expand beyond the mature Japanese cellphone market.
Sprint needs investment from SoftBank to help it pay for a network upgrade and its proposed buy out of the minority shareholders of Clearwire Corp CLWR.O, in which Sprint already has a majority stake. Continued...