Dish asks FCC to suspend review of SoftBank's Sprint bid

Thu May 16, 2013 6:29pm EDT
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NEW YORK May 16 (Reuters) - Dish Network Corp asked U.S. regulators on Thursday to stop reviewing SoftBank Corp's proposed acquisition of Sprint Nextel Corp's , citing the Japanese company's reported attempt to thwart its bid for the U.S. wireless carrier.

The request follows a Reuters report on May 10 that SoftBank asked several Wall Street investment banks not to finance Dish's $25.5 billion offer for Sprint by saying such a move could hurt their chances of getting a piece of the public offering of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. SoftBank owns 33 percent of Alibaba.

"If SoftBank has the power to influence crucial financing decisions of a Chinese company and enlist those decisions in the service of its effort to acquire Sprint, then the proposed foreign ownership needs to be assessed in light of this Chinese company as well," DISH said in the letter to the Federal Communications Commission.

"SoftBank is trying to force its offer on Sprint's shareholders by underhandedly seeking to undermine a superior bid," Dish wrote.

The Japanese telecom company, which has an existing agreement with Sprint to buy 70 percent of the U.S. wireless carrier for $20.1 billion, has criticized Dish's offer, saying it does not have committed financing in place.

Dish has lined up four banks, Barclay's Plc, Macquarie Group, Jefferies and the Royal Bank of Canada , to help finance its proposed offer, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

An FCC spokesman declined to comment and Sprint could not be reached for comment.

A SoftBank spokesman said, "This is yet another irrelevant and unfounded filing based on unsubstantiated media reports."