Dish's Ergen says wants stake in Clearwire, bid not 'illusory'

DANA POINT, Calif. Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:33pm EST

DANA POINT, Calif. Feb 11 (Reuters) - Dish Network Corp Chairman Charlie Ergen dismissed speculation his surprise $2.3 billion bid for Clearwire Corp was "illusory," saying that he wanted a stake in the wireless company and that rival bidder Sprint Nextel would have to work to fend off Dish.

Last month, Dish announced it had made an offer of $3.30 per share for Clearwire, which had already agreed to sell itself to majority owner Sprint for $2.97 per share. A special committee on the Clearwire board is now reviewing the offer.

The 59-year-old Ergen told the AllThingsDigital "Dive into Media" conference in southern California on Monday that he fully intended to go through with the bid. Addressing speculation about his plans for some $3 billion in purchased wireless spectrum, he explained he did not intend to sell it.

Dish has not explained why it bid for Clearwire. While some analysts speculate it may simply be hoping to gain leverage in talks with Sprint about a network partnership, others suggest it wants Clearwire's spectrum.

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