Dish makes U.S. national security argument for Sprint offer

WASHINGTON, April 18 Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:32am EDT

WASHINGTON, April 18 (Reuters) - Dish Network Corp is asking U.S. regulators to suspend the review of the proposed acquisition of Sprint Nextel Corp to Japan's SoftBank Corp , saying its own counteroffer would be preferable for U.S. national security reasons.

Dish in the past has asked the Federal Communications Commission for such a suspension, but in a filing posted online on Thursday, the satellite TV provider reinforced the request with arguments about its own, unsolicited $25.5 billion bid it made for Sprint on Monday.

In the filing, Dish touted the premium its $25.5 billion bid would offer Sprint shareholders and also pointed to SoftBank's foreign origin, saying that the Japanese company lacked the "existing in-market infrastructure," among other things.

"DISH's merger proposal is better for American consumers, better for Sprint shareholders, and better for U.S. national security than the SoftBank proposal," the filing says.

Dish asked the FCC to withhold its ruling on the merger until Sprint's board responds to its own offer.

Federal regulators put extra scrutiny on merger deals involving foreign-owned entities to ensure independence and protection of the U.S. networks.

Charlie Ergen, chairman of the No. 2 U.S. satellite TV company Dish, is challenging SoftBank's $20.1 billion offer to buy 70 percent of the No. 3 U.S. mobile provider Sprint, prompting support from major shareholders including hedge funds Paulson & Co and Omega Advisors.

Sprint's board is now studying the Dish offer.

Shares of Sprint rose 0.4 percent to $7.12 on Thursday. They had jumped sharply on the news of Dish's bid, which was the boldest step yet by Ergen, who has spent billions of dollars on wireless spectrum in the last few years.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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