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By Soyoung Kim and Olivia Oran
NEW YORK, May 15 (Reuters) - Dish Network Corp has lined up four banks to finance its $25.5 billion bid for Sprint Nextel Corp, escalating the bidding war against Japanese telecom company SoftBank Corp, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Dish, run by billionaire founder Charlie Ergen, is working with Barclays Plc, Macquarie Group, Jefferies and the Royal Bank of Canada to help finance around $9 billion in debt needed for the offer, the people said on Wednesday.
The U.S. satellite company is still finalizing details and has yet to commit to the financing package being put together by the banks, the people said.
Dish is hoping to examine Sprint's detailed financial data including internal earnings projections, so that it can conduct in-depth due diligence on the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier before making a firm financing commitment, they said.
On Tuesday, Dish said it was raising $2.5 billion in a bond deal to help fund the proposed offer, a deal that was later upsized to $2.6 billion due to strong investor demand. The remaining $6.5 billion in financing would be in the form of bank loans and syndicated through the participating banks, the people said.
The people asked not to be named because the matter is not public. Barclays and Macquarie declined to comment. Jefferies and RBC could not be reached for comment.
The progress in Dish's financing efforts comes even after SoftBank fought hard to keep major Wall Street banks from financing a Dish offer.
Reuters first reported on May 10 that SoftBank told banks that their financing of Dish's $25.5 billion rival offer for Sprint could hurt their chances of landing a role in the highly anticipated public offering of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. SoftBank owns 33 percent of Alibaba.
SoftBank has an existing agreement with Sprint to buy 70 percent of the U.S. wireless carrier for $20.1 billion, and had previously criticized Dish's offer for its lack of committed financing.
Ergen, in response, said last week that Sprint's special committee had not yet allowed Dish to view its data room to gain a closer look at the company, and added he would make a firm financing commitment only if Sprint would seriously consider his bid.
"The firm commitment does have a cost to us," Ergen said at a news conference last week. "Our bid is contingent on the fact that we get to do due diligence."