It has all the makings of a soap opera. The star-crossed lovers, in this case Sprint and Clearwire, leave us on the edge of our seats wondering will they ever get together? And what about Dish Network’s pass at Clearwire? Is it a love triangle or is Clearwire merely leading Dish on to increase the affections (and price per share) of Sprint?
Clearwire released a proxy statement on Feb. 1 that did little to illuminate its plans concerning the Sprint Nextel attempt to acquire the half of Clearwire that it does not already own for $2.97 per share. It did, however, indicate that Dish is still in the running, and its “special committee” is still evaluating the satellite provider’s $3.30 per share offer. Clearwire also still has not drawn down any of Sprint’s promised financing.
“The special committee will … continue to evaluate the Dish proposal and engage in discussions with each of Dish and Sprint, as appropriate,” according to the proxy statement. “The special committee has not made any determination to change its recommendation of the current Sprint transaction.”
Meanwhile, to complicate things further Sprint has its own suitor, Softbank, still waiting in the wings, whose money it plans to use in the Clearwire deal. On Jan. 29, the Department of Justice asked the FCC to delay its review of the $20 billion deal, while the DOJ, FBI and Department of Homeland Security investigate. The Commission was two months into its six month review. At issue are security concerns concerning Softbank’s work with Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.
Law360 media and telecom news services laments that all of these financial transactions are involving lawyers from an extraordinary number of law firms –– 29 in all –– in Delaware; Washington, D.C.; New York; California; Kansas; and Tokyo, while the usual number is half a dozen.
No matter what twists and turns this melodrama takes in the coming months. One thing is certain. It spells delay in the build out of additional wireless infrastructure. And that is not good for towers.