Paulson backs Dish bid for Sprint

NEW YORK, April 16 Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:44pm EDT

NEW YORK, April 16 (Reuters) - Hedge fund titan John Paulson said Dish Network Corp's $25.5 billion bid for Sprint Nextel Corp is a compelling offer, a vote of confidence that could help the U.S. satellite TV provider beat rival suitor SoftBank Corp of Japan.

"Dish is offering more value to Sprint shareholders and also is contributing valuable spectrum, 14 million subscribers, cost synergies and revenue synergies," said Paulson, whose fund is Sprint's fourth-largest shareholder, in a statement to Reuters.

Dish, the No.2 U.S. satellite TV company, made its unsolicited cash-and-stock offer for the wireless service provider on Monday, hoping to trump Japanese wireless operator SoftBank's proposal in October to pay $20.1 billion in cash for 70 percent of Sprint.

While SoftBank is proposing only an investment in Sprint, Dish says its offer will benefit customers by allowing them to watch video anywhere, anytime through a combination of its satellite service with Sprint's wireless network.

Paulson & Co. has turned in a rocky performance of late, putting pressure on Paulson to deliver a clear win from his Sprint investment.

Sprint's board is studying the Dish offer, the company said on Monday. Its stock rose 1.98 percent to 7.20 on Tuesday, bringing the company's value to $21.68 billion.

Dish's bid is the boldest step yet by Chairman Charlie Ergen, who has spent billions of dollars on wireless spectrum in the last few years.

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