Timeline: Dish Network vies with SoftBank to acquire Sprint

Reuters

Dish Network Corp, the No. 2 U.S. satellite television provider, has offered to buy Sprint Nextel Corp for $25.5 billion in cash and stock, a move that could thwart the proposed acquisition of Sprint by Japan's SoftBank Corp.

The deal, if approved, might also resolve a struggle between Sprint and Dish for control of wireless provider Clearwire Corp.

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Below is a list of key dates since SoftBank's takeover bid in October:

October 15, 2012 - SoftBank Corp, Japan's No. 3 mobile carrier, says it will buy about 70 percent of Sprint Nextel Corp for $20.1 billion.

The biggest outbound deal in Japanese corporate history represents a bold move by SoftBank's billionaire founder and chief executive, Masayoshi Son, to expand beyond a flagging home market, while offering Sprint the firepower to buy peers.

October 18 - Sprint Nextel says it has acquired an interest of slightly more than 50 percent in wireless provider Clearwire Corp by buying a stake from its founder. Some investors had been expecting a full takeover offer.

December 13 - Sprint Nextel, which owns 50.45 percent of Clearwire, offers $2.1 billion to buy the rest of the company after talks with shareholders, including Intel Corp and Comcast Corp.

One minority shareholder, Crest Financial, says the deal is not in the interest of Clearwire shareholders. Others say they are unhappy with the terms.

December 14 - Clearwire shareholder Mount Kellett Capital Management LP says Sprint Nextel's $2.90-per-share offer "grossly" undervalues the company.

In an open letter, Mount Kellett, which owns 3.6 percent of Clearwire's stock, urges Clearwire's board to reject the deal.

December 17 - Sprint Nextel raises its offer to $2.97 cents per share and says the revised $2.2 billion offer has the unanimous approval of Clearwire directors.

Clearwire says it has no attractive alternatives to Sprint's offer. Some minority shareholders continue to oppose the deal.

December 18 - Sprint promises to pay Clearwire a $120 million break-up fee if the deal does not go ahead.

Clearwire says it has agreed to a "no-shop" provision, meaning it cannot seek other offers but can consider unsolicited offers.

December 21 - Dish Network, the No. 2 U.S. satellite television provider, enters the fray. It asks the U.S. telecom regulator for a three-week extension to a deadline for filing petitions against Softbank's proposed acquisition of Sprint.

The request suggests Dish, controlled by billionaire founder Charlie Ergen, might be gearing up for a takeover battle. Dish declines further comment on the matter.

January 4, 2013 - Crest Financial says it plans to ask the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block Clearwire's sale to Sprint Nextel, and to block Sprint's plan to sell 70 percent of itself to Softbank Corp.

January 8 - Dish Network makes a preliminary bid to buy Clearwire for $3.30 per share, trumping Sprint's $2.97 cents per share offer and setting the stage for a takeover battle for the wireless service provider.

January 29 - Dish decides not to block Sprint's proposed deal with Softbank, citing its ongoing negotiations with Clearwire and uncertainty over that company's ownership.

Crest Financial, meanwhile, says it has asked the FCC to block both proposed mergers.

February 11 - Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen dismisses speculation that his surprise $2.3 billion bid for Clearwire was "illusory" and says Sprint will have to "do something different" to fend off Dish.

February 12 - Clearwire says it will need Sprint financing to keep afloat until the end of the year.

February 21 - Asked about Clearwire on a conference call, Ergen says he would consider partnering with Sprint.

April 3 - Crest Financial, the largest minority shareholder in Clearwire, proposes a convertible debt financing plan aimed at making Clearwire less dependent on Sprint.

April 10 - Crest Financial files proxy statement which, if cleared by U.S. regulators, will be used to urge Clearwire stockholders to reject the proposed merger with Sprint Nextel.

April 15 - Dish offers to buy Sprint Nextel for $25.5 billion in cash and stock, trumping Softbank's existing bid.

Dish says its offer is more compelling because of the synergies: $11 billion in cost savings and the creation of a national provider of video, broadband and voice services.

Dish says it would be willing to honor Sprint's existing merger with Clearwire.

(Compiled by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bangalore; Editing by Robin Paxton)