Dish holds off on filing against Sprint, Softbank

NEW YORK Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:46pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dish Network Corp (DISH.O) has decided against filing to block Sprint Nextel Corp's (S.N) proposed deal with Softbank Corp (9984.T), at least for now, citing its ongoing negotiations with Clearwire Corp CLWR.O and uncertainty over that company's ownership.

Dish said, however, in a January 28 letter addressed to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission that it does plan to participate in the next round of filings in the regulatory review of Sprint's plan to sell 70 percent of itself to Softbank.

It also filed a document with the FCC on Tuesday complaining that the regulator should not have approved Sprint's recent purchase of shares of Clearwire from another shareholder, Eagle River. That deal gave Sprint majority ownership of Clearwire.

Satellite television provider Dish proposed buying Clearwire for $3.30 per share earlier this month, countering Sprint's December agreement to buy out Clearwire for $2.97 per share. Sprint already owns 50.45 percent of Clearwire.

Sprint needs approval from a majority of Clearwire's minority shareholders to go ahead with the deal. Many Clearwire shareholders have complained that Sprint's offer is too low especially in light of the Dish offer.

Crest Financial Ltd, a big minority shareholder in Clearwire, said on Tuesday that it had filed a document with the FCC seeking to block Sprint's purchase of Clearwire and its deal with Softbank. Crest has also sued to block the deals.

Dish declined to comment beyond the filings. Sprint declined to comment. Clearwire confirmed that its special committee is still reviewing the Dish offer.

Clearwire shares closed down 2 cents at $3.34 on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting By Sinead Carew and Liana Baker; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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